Born in Harlem and raised on the Upper West Side of NYC, Bobby Broom took up guitar at age 12 and five years later in 1977, made his first appearance with Sonny Rollins and Donald Byrd at Carnegie Hall. He went on to tour regularly and record with Rollins from 1981 to ‘86 and again, more recently, from 2005 to ‘10. During his early years, Bobby also performed and recorded with trumpeters Tom Browne and Hugh Masekela; pianists Weldon Irvine and Dave Grusin, and Charlie Parker pianists Al Haig and Walter Bishop, Jr.
By 1981 Broom had recorded his debut as a leader, Clean Sweep, for GRP Records. The deal came as a result of Broom’s declining the offer from Art Blakey to become the first and only guitarist in his famed group, The Jazz Messengers. Broom chose to work with friends who were actively recording and touring in the GRP Records circle, which afforded him his first opportunity to record as a leader and subsequently, to introduce him to a new fan base.
Later in the decade, Bobby relocated to Chicago while continuing to work with Rollins, Stanley Turrentine, Charles Earland, Miles Davis, Kenny Garrett and Dr. John, among others over the next 20 years. In 1986 Bobby was recruited by jazz guitar icon and elder Kenny Burrell to be a member of Burrell’s “Jazz Guitar Band.” That three guitar front-line group (including guitarist Rodney Jones) recorded two records live at the Village Vanguard for Blue Note Records. At that time Burrell said, “Bobby is the most innovative guitarist I’ve heard in a long time.”
Throughout his career, Bobby has also been a dedicated jazz educator. He holds a Master of Music degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University. His first teaching experience was under the auspices of Jackie McLean at the University of Hartford’s, Hartt School of Music during the semesters of 1982 and ’83. Prior to his current position at North Park University, Broom was a jazz faculty member at DePaul University for six years and Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music for six years. He conducts clinics, master classes and lectures nationwide and abroad, is a teaching artist with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and for eighteen years has been a Ravinia Jazz Mentor to Chicago Public High School students. He has also written editorial and instructional pieces for national magazines, DownBeat and JazzTimes.
Heralded as “one of the most musical guitarists of our times,” by author and jazz critic Ted Gioia, Bobby has spent the new millennium focusing on his musical output as a leader. He has recorded with both his Bobby Broom Trio and the disbanded, Deep Blue Organ Trio for the Premonition, Delmark and Origin labels. His Plays for Monk was released in spring 2009, The Way I Play in April 2008, and Deep Blue’s Wonderfu1! in 2011 and Folk Music in 2007. Bobby was recognized as one of the top guitarists in Down Beat magazine’s annual Critics Poll for 3 years, from 2012–2014. His Deep Blue CD, Wonderfu1!, reached number one on both US national jazz radio charts. His latest BBT release, My Shining Hour (Origin, 2014), received a New York Times review and placed at number three on the US national jazz radio chart. Throughout his career, Broom has continued to garner praise and encouragement from his peers and elders. Sonny Rollins has said, “Bobby is the reason I like the guitar.” Fellow guitarists also laud Broom, including those that he admires such as John Scofield, George Benson and Pat Metheny, who cited Broom’s 2007 Song and Dance recording as “one of the best (jazz) guitar trio records ever!”
Broom’s latest recording is with his new organ group, the Bobby Broom Organi-Sation, which was the opening act for Steely Dan’s fifty-city, North American tour in 2014. The new recording, Soul Fingers, is arguably Bobby’s most ambitious to date. Produced by the legendary drummer/producer Steve Jordan, Bobby once again revisits the music of his youth, this time employing a wide range of instrumental palates, in addition to palpable group interplay and his own, always soulful and singularly personal sound and style.