Bobby Broom was born in Harlem on January 18, 1961 and grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He didn't begin playing guitar until age 12 and his first lessons focused on folk music. A year later, Broom began studying with a jazz guitar teacher named, Jimmy Carter. Though Carter encouraged his student to listen to jazz, Broom was more interested in the pop hits of the day from Earth Wind and Fire and Kool and The Gang. Hearing Herbie Hancock's rock-inflected record Headhunters convinced Broom to give jazz a second chance. After delving into the music of George Benson, Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, Broom was hooked.
"[Bobby Broom's] got terrific technique," recalls host Marian McPartland. "All very hard swinging and with a lot of good improv. He's a good talker, too. So it was a fun interview, as well."
Broom began developing his jazz chops quickly, and by age 16, he'd found a professional gig backing pianist Al Haig. That same year, Broom auditioned for Sonny Rollins and the sax legend invited him to go on tour. Broom declined, thinking it better to finish high school before launching himself headlong into a jazz career. Rollins didn't forget the young guitarist — he called Broom a year later, inviting him to play a one-night-only concert at Carnegie Hall!
Broom pursued his musical education at Berklee but returned to New York after a year, attending Long Island University by day and sitting in with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at night. Broom left the Messengers to work with trumpeter Tom Browne who's brand of jazz leaned more toward funk and fusion. This association led to being signed to GRP records and his first album as a leader, Clean Sweep.
In 1982, Rollins called on Broom again, this time asking him to join his band. Broom toured and recorded two albums with Rollins over the next four years. He also finished a music performance degree at Columbia College.
Following the gig with Rollins, Broom relocated to Chicago where he formed the Jazz Guitar Band with fellow guitarists Kenny Burrell and Rodney Jones. Throughout the late '80s and early '90s, Broom recorded with such artists as David Murray, Eric Alexander, and Charles Earland. He also pursued graduate studies in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University. In 1994, Broom joined up with Dr. John, a gig that lasted five and a half years. At the same time, Broom began releasing records as a leader with 1995's No Hype Blues. He's since released five more albums as a leader and appeared on three albums with his side project, the Deep Blue Organ Trio.
Broom's latest release with his trio is The Way I Play. In addition to performing around the country with his trio, Broom continues to work with the Deep Blue Organ Trio and with Rollins. Broom is also active as a jazz educator, currently on faculty at DePaul University.
Originally recorded August 7, 2007.