Redefining musical diversity worldwide, Bob Brozman is a remarkably prolific artist whose wit, energy, and musical technique combine powerfully to create an unforgettable live performance. A master of slide, finger-style, and percussive guitar, Bobís exhilarating show spans the global and musical spectrum, and keeps audiences enthralled, begging for more of his endearing, infectious energy.
Bobís familiarity with diverse world music cultures produces a novel blending of rhythmic and timbral influences, unparalleled in todayís musical environment. His rhythmic dexterity resonates with elements of blues, jazz, Gypsy swing, calypso, sega, and even the most modern hip-hop and Ska beats.
Likewise, his chords and harmonies articulate an acute blend of timbres from Hawaiian, Indian, African, Japanese/Okinawan, Caribbean, and American roots blues. His fingerwork has been described in world press as uniquely staggering, yet full of humor. Bob has a collection of hand-tricks that make audiences look for electronic effects that in fact donít exist: his show is the clean product of acoustic genius.
Bobís disarming talent for humor and rapport invariably adds spice to his already well-seasoned repertoire of music. A lifelong study of ethnomusicology and the global migration of musical styles ensures Bobís committed attention and respect to each of the cultures in his repertoire. He casually shares historical facts with his audiences, and charms them with his ability to integrate local languages into his show: over the years, Bob has taught himself useful phrases in over 30 languages, which he regularly uses both on stage and off.
Undoubtedly, however, Bobís preferred language is music - which he speaks fluently, around the world. His most recent projects have rendered him a true player in the world music scene. In the past year alone, he collaborated on stage and in the studio with over four dozen artists from more than 13 different countries. At the 1999 Festival díEte in Quebec, for example, Bob assembled an international troupe that included Debashish & Subhashis Bhattacharya (India), Takashi Hirayasu (Okinawa), Rene Lacaille (La Reunion), Djeli Moussa Diawara (Guinea), George Pilali (Greece), Romane (French Gypsy guitarist), La Familia Valera (Cuba), and George Gao (China) - all performing for the first time together, live on-stage! Since that time, Bob has brought parts of this vast ensemble to the USA, Europe, and South Africa.
In the brief few years since 2000, Bob has completed fourteen full-length recordings with many of these individuals: most notably, the 2003 release of Mahima with Debashish Bhattacharya, the 2002 release DigDig with Rene Lacaille, as well as Jin Jin (with Hirayasu); Ocean Blues (with Diawara), In the Saddle (with Led Kaapana); Nankuru Naisa (with Hirayasu), Tone Poems III (with David Grisman); Sunrise (with Bhattacharya); Rolling Through This World (with Jeff Lang, Australia); Get Together (with Woody Mann); and Four Hands Sweet & Hot (with Cyril Pahinui). In addition, Bob has released three solo projects: Live Now, Metric Time, and the latest, Blues Reflex. In 2003 and 2004, Bob journeyed twice to Papua New Guinea, to record and be filmed with five string bands (60 musicians). The resulting CD/DVD, Songs of the Volcano, was released internationally in 2005.
An abundance of projects such as these has established Bob as, according to one reviewer, ďthe man whose musical empathy seems to know no bounds.Ē And as journalist Paul Fisher notes, ďIf music existed in another universe, Bob would be the Planet Earthís representative for an interplanetary collaboration.Ē
Bob was born in New York in 1954 and has been involved in music since early childhood. A guitarist since age six, Bob discovered National guitars at age thirteen. In their unique sound, the young Bob found his musical calling. He studied music and ethnomusicology at Washington University with an emphasis on the earliest roots of Delta blues. He has since become a respected authority on historical Hawaiian music, publishing articles and amassing a large collection of 78 rpm records. He has produced five re-issue albums from this collection on the Rounder and Folklyric labels, documenting the best of Hawaiian music from 1915 to 1935.
In 1988, Bob rediscovered the legendary 1929 Hawaiian recording artists, the Tau Moe Family. Together they recorded a landmark album, Remembering the Songs of Our Youth, an historic re-creation of the familyís genuine Hawaiian music from 60 years prior. The album was released in 1989 to rave international reviews, including the Library of Congress Select List Award. With N.E.A. funding, Bob began production of a feature-length documentary film about the Moe family and their amazing 54-year-long world tour.
Over the years, Bobís passion for National Guitars led him to build a large collection of these fascinating art-deco era instruments. After receiving a letter from the then-88-year-old inventor John Dopyera, Bob visited and became good friends with John and his family. This led to further research, and in 1993 Bobís massive work, The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments, was published internationally. He has also written for several music magazines concerning historical and instructional subjects.
Since his first solo album in 1981, Bobís repertoire of recordings has grown by 26 titles to include ten solo projects and at least a dozen collaborations with international friends. His ability to use the guitar as a portable translator of culture - coupled with his empathetic nature (through music, culture, and language), and seemingly boundless energy - enables him to establish genuine musical friendships based on respect and love of music. Bobís deep knowledge of musical history and arranging has enabled him to create large band arrangements and direct music for film, radio, television, and stage. In the last year, Bob produced albums for Ledward Kaapana & The Asylum Street Spankers; he also continues to generate educational and concert videos for Homespun Tapes and Vestopol Videos, respectively.
In 1999, Bob and Woody Mann co-founded International Guitar Seminars, which hosts over 120 students annually at sites in California, New York, and Canada. The team has pioneered a week-long, deluxe workshop in which students study day and night with a faculty that includes Bob, Woody, John Cephas, John Renbourn, Orville Johnson, Michael Dunn, Mary Flower, Mike Dowling, Jim Nichols, Pat Donahue, and more.
In addition to his rigorous touring and recording schedule, Bob is also an adjunct Professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he lectures on ethnomusicology and is beginning research on string music in Papua New Guinea and the tremendous number of islands around New Guinea and in the western South Pacific Ocean. Through the auspices of the University, Bob will be recording and collaborating with a wide variety of musicians from these interesting locales. He is also working toward the creation of a foundation to help third-world musicians to obtain the musical basics that western musicians take for granted, such as playable instruments, strings, tuning gears, and basic recording equipment.
Bob maintains a nearly superhuman tour schedule throughout the year, every year. Live performance tours are a vital part Bobís activity, in addition to his collaborations. He tours constantly throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
As Bob says, ďThereís so much music out there. . . . I guess Iíll get some sleep in the next life!Ē