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BOB BROZMAN Blues Reflex Ruf 1109 (2005)

Bob Brozman

'Blues Reflex' is as interesting a title as the music that Bob Brozman plays. There is nothing remotely predictable here save for the fact that much of the music is acoustically driven, and in a vague sense bluesy. For every deep blues number such as the Mississippi style of 'Death Comes Creeping', there are at least a brace of other efforts that puzzle, confound and enchant by turns.

Happiest at being regarded as a World musician who draws his inspiration and musical oeuvre from all over the globe Bob Brozman is anything but an easy listen. Then again on the evidence of 'Blues Reflex' the more you listen the more you will get out of it.

On 'Rattlesnake Blues' for example, Bob follows his own unique idiosyncratic style that spontaneously draws him into a bewildering number of directions. Such a style involves sudden tempo changes, unexpected stops and starts and fragmented rhythm sequences over self-accompanying percussion played mostly on guitar.

The Charlie Patton influenced 'Poor Me', is the kind of uncompromising track that will sort out the down-home blues fans from the rest. Though Bob's growling baritone vocals, generate a real sense of pathos and wonder by turns, like Loudon Wainwright before him he will struggle to go beyond a minority appeal.

But Brozman's real forte is exploring a myriad of guitar styles and on 'Vieux Kanyar Blues' he uses Hawaiian guitars to formulate an Eastern sounding blues, and adds a curious but luscious lap style guitar on the Robert Johnson favoured 'Little Tough Guy Blues'.

On one of his more straightforward efforts, 'New Guinea Blues', he adds another curious tone derived from the Myoko string sound. But it is with the closing brace of instrumentals 'More Room At The Edge' - a delightful melange of percussion and guitar - and 'Workman's Song' redolent of the late John Fahey that Bob strikes the perfect balance of innovation and approachability.

In sum 'Blues Reflex' is a marvellous piece of work, short only of a few guest vocalists to give Bob Brozman deserving wider appeal.


Review by Pete Feenstra

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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