Brian Bromberg, LaFaro Review

Echoes of a Legacy: Brian Bromberg's Tribute to Scott LaFaro


Brian Bromberg, LaFaro Review

Echoes of a Legacy: Brian Bromberg’s Tribute to Scott LaFaro

by Nolan DeBuke

Brian-Bromberg-CDBrian Bromberg’s latest album, LaFaro, is an enjoyable tribute to the legendary jazz bassist Scott LaFaro, whose innovative work with the Bill Evans Trio has left an indelible mark on jazz music. Bromberg, a masterful musician known for his virtuosity on both electric and upright basses, dedicates this album to exploring the acoustic bass in a trio setting that echoes the conversational interplay characteristic of LaFaro’s time with Evans. Accompanied by pianist Tom Zink and drummer Charles Ruggiero, Bromberg ventures into a selection of jazz standards and an original, showcasing his exceptional skills and deep respect for LaFaro’s legacy.

The trio’s performance of “Solar” sets a swinging pace that immediately highlights Bromberg’s melodic sensibility and the trio’s cohesive energy. Zink’s piano playing is elegant and assertive as his solo pushes the beat forward, perfectly complementing Bromberg’s fluid bass lines and Ruggiero’s nuanced grounding drumming. This track is a homage to the jazz greats but also sets a high standard for the trio’s following performances.

“Waltz for Debby” and “Alice in Wonderland” further display the trio’s ability to reinterpret Evans’ material with a fresh perspective. Bromberg’s agile solo on “Waltz for Debby” delves into the modal colors of the piece, while “Alice in Wonderland” showcases the trio’s excellent dynamic control and motivic development, particularly evident in Zink’s thoughtful piano solos and Ruggiero’s expressive brushwork.

“Gloria’s Step” captures the essence of the Bill Evans Trio’s magic, with a performance that balances swinging momentum with lyrical beauty. The trio’s interpretation of “Blue in Green” is an example of this, offering an emotional depth that reflects the strong chemistry among the musicians. Bromberg’s solo here displays his ability to convey complex emotions through his instrument, supported by Ruggiero’s sensitive brushwork and Zink’s solid solos.

The album’s exploration of modal cool jazz is beautifully exemplified in tracks like “Milestones.” “Nardis” seamlessly continues this musical journey, with the trio’s performance echoing the evolved dynamics of the Bill Evans Trio during its later periods, particularly referencing the synergy experienced during the live Paris Concert recordings with bassist Marc Johnson. Bromberg’s bass playing anchors these arrangements with a steadfast foundation and brings a vibrant energy and expressive innovation to his solos. This approach allows for a deepened exploration by Zink and Ruggiero, reflecting a nuanced understanding and appreciation of the genre’s rich history.

“My Foolish Heart” returns to the reflective mood of early Evans-Lafaro collaborations, with each musician contributing to a narrative woven through tones, space, and rhythm. “Scotty’s Song,” the lone original composition, showcases Bromberg’s blues-infused solo bass work before transitioning into a groove reminiscent of Wes Montgomery, highlighting his versatile technique.

The album concludes with “Danny Boy,” a solo performance by Bromberg that demonstrates his mastery of chordal and melodic bass playing. This track is a fitting end to an album that not only pays tribute to a jazz legend but also showcases Bromberg’s own significant contributions to the genre.

LaFaro is a meticulously crafted album that vibrantly resonates with the spirit of Scott LaFaro’s pioneering contributions alongside the Bill Evans Trio, simultaneously showcasing Bromberg’s exceptional talent and profound musicality. Through this heartfelt tribute, Bromberg presents us with eleven gems of well-known jazz compositions, each meticulously interpreted to display the evolution and versatility of acoustic jazz bass playing. This collection pays homage to a jazz legend and highlights Bromberg’s innovative approach to the bass. LaFaro will be available April 5, 2024 via Be Squared Productions.

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