Bob Brozman

Blues Reflex

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This string-driven world music showcase is a concise textbook lesson on various genres, which shouldn't be surprising since Bob Brozman is a professor at Macquarie University in Australia where he lectures on ethnomusicology. It's a trip around the globe in less than an hour as Brozman showcases the instruments in his extensive guitar collection and his proficiency on them. But this isn't just a dry lesson like you used to snooze through at school. Rather, Brozman makes this music come alive due to his amazing speed, agility, and knowledge of the styles he introduces. Indian, African, and American blues are the touchstones for an album that twists in so many directions on each track that it's impossible to predict where the songs are going. Brozman overdubs himself on up to four stringed instruments on some tracks and plays percussion, making this truly a solo project. Drummer Greg Graber adds drums to a few cuts and is the only other participant. Brozman also wrote the lion's share of material, with covers of Charley Patton's "Poor Me," Skip James' "Cypress Grove Blues," and a few creative rearrangements of traditional tunes the only non-originals. But his songs traverse the same wide swath as the covers, which is to say they swing from blues to worldbeat and back. The guitarist doesn't have a particularly distinctive voice, but he puts across the music with a gruff intensity, somewhat like Leon Redbone, that won't distract the listener from his incredible dexterity on the various stringed instruments. And that's the attraction here, as Brozman twists and scurries through unique chords played on a variety of guitars, all of which are listed in the liner notes. Certainly acoustic guitarists -- especially those who enjoy the somewhat similar stylings of Leo Kottke -- will find this fascinating, but anyone with even a cursory interest in acoustic blues and worldbeat will appreciate Bob Brozman's amazing musicianship.

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