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Nov 2007. Interview by David Atkinson. Pics Ali Madjdi
Bob plays the Half Moon in Putney (www.halfmoon.co.uk) on
Wednesday night. An evening of the finest guitar sliding and spanking
awaits those who attend.
Fortunately BluesinLondon managed a quick interview with this self-styled
itinerant polymath, who is in town to promote his two recent albums:
Post-Industrial Blues and Lumiere.
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On 'Post-Industrial Blues' yu return to blues forms after many years
travelling and recording. Is this album something that's been building
up for a while?
The blues had always been at the base of my aesthetic senses. As a young
boy I found resonance in blues, with its deep communication of feeling,
depth of groove, and improvisational spirit. So you could say it
has been buildingup all my life. I am always trying to get deeper
expression and conveyance of feeling as I get older.
You've always actively encouraged people to open their ears and minds
but how has your attitude towards blues changed over time? Do you still
get the same things form the music or has it altered/grown as you've
expanded your horizons, so to speak?
I always remind people that a music tradition is made up of individual
musicians, and the best of these musicians are always pushing the limits
their tradition--Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Sol
Django Rheinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Still whenever I hear Charley
I get full of feeling. And that experience as a young man enabled me
my mind to feeling in all sorts of music.
The press blurb makes reference to the more socio-political songs on
therecord. Can you tell us a bit about them?
Well, it is hard to stay silent in these troubled times. A real patriot
indeed loves his country, but always questions what is going on with
this decade, a lot of irreversible damage has been done to my country
leaders, a lot of economic damage, social damage, loss of societal empathy,
rampant cynicism and greed. Blues has always been a form of social
music, however hidden or overt. Discourse IS democracy, so I am
adding a little contribution to the discussion, trying to raise a few
head-scratching questions. Having said all that, I am very happy
music I have composed for these songs, as they really take the tradition
blues and stretch the boundaries more than ever for me.
Besides post-industrial blues you recently released
bob brozman orchestra! Upon which you play every instrument but as an
ensemble. I stumbled across it in a record store and I was rather alarmed
by the 30 or so Bobs smiling back from the cover. It seems somewhat at
odds with your usual collaborative spirit; or were all the Bobs reading
from the same page?!
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No reading done for that project at all! Much of the music was composed
DURING the recording process. The pieces were mostly improvised,
layered instrument playing in musical and emotional reaction to the previous
instruments. In fact it is very collaborative in a way, because I used
the quick-thinking and reactive skills I have had to learn during my
Can you explain how you built up the pieces, given that you always make
room for spontaneity? And how did you select the pieces to record out
of the vast number of people you've worked with and records you've made?
conveyance of emotion was my primary goal. Each piece usually
began with a small string instrument, and then I would play one string
or percussion instrument at a time, layering colors like paint, until
my ears were satisfied. The whole thing was spontaneous, as parts would
emerge and engender new ideas or new timbres. Solos were improvised bursts
of inspiration. The whole thing, with all those multiple parts, took
These both seem quite personal projects for you. What's happening in
2008 and beyond?
Lots of touring, no matter how I try to slow down...Australia, an Irish
collaboration, Spain, Greece, France Germany, next UK tour MAY 19-31,
Canada, possibly Serbia, Australia again, and that takes us about halfway
through 2008! I have a lot of 2009 scheduled already, and feel
to have so much work offered to me in this world.
Running for president is out of the question, I suppose? Bob
They would never elect a guy who looks like me! But I bet I could
get a few
things straightened out if they let me re-prioritize the national budget
a year or two!