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Bob Brozman
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 of
their tradition--Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Sol Hoopii,
Django Rheinhardt, Jimi Hendrix, etc.  Still whenever I hear Charley Patton,
I get full of feeling. And that experience as a young man enabled me to open
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 it! In
this decade, a lot of irreversible damage has been done to my country by its
leaders, a lot of economic damage, social damage, loss of societal empathy,
rampant cynicism and greed.  Blues has always been a form of social protest
music, however hidden or overt.  Discourse IS democracy, so I am merely
adding a little contribution to the discussion, trying to raise a few
head-scratching questions.  Having said all that, I am very happy with the
music I have composed for these songs, as they really take the tradition of
blues and stretch the boundaries more than ever for me.



Besides post-industrial blues you recently released lumière: the 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, with each
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 many collaborations.

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?

Again, 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 16 days.

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 very lucky
to have so much work offered to me in this world.

Running for president is out of the question, I suppose? Bob 2012?

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 for
a year or two!

More info: www.bobbrozman.com

Our 2006 interview with Bob here >>