Inevitably, Modern Man will be compared to the 1966 output of the George Benson Quartet -- an organ combo who the famous guitarist/singer led back when hard bop was still his primary focus. Benson is among guitarist Bobby Broom's various influences, and this 2000 date favors the same guitar/organ/baritone sax/drums format that Benson's 1966 combo was known for. Further, half of that outfit (organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and baritone saxman Ronnie Cuber) is employed on Modern Man, with veteran drummer Idris Muhammad rounding out the lineup. But while comparisons to the classic Benson group are unavoidable, Broom is his own man -- and this hard bop/soul-jazz effort isn't a Benson tribute. Broom and his colleagues don't play Benson Quartet items like "Clockwise" and "The Cooker," and their choice of material ranges from Broom and Cuber originals to Hank Mobley's "A Peck a Sec," Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David favorite "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (which is one of the more lyrical offerings on a CD that tends to be aggressive and hard-swinging). To his credit, Broom doesn't limit himself to the Great American Songbook; "Old Devil Moon" is the album's only beaten-to-death warhorse. Especially surprising is Broom's interpretation of Derek & the Dominos' "Layla," which ends up sounding perfectly natural as a moody, smoky, jazz-noir instrumental. Broom's interesting "Layla" makeover reminds listeners how sad it is that so many bop and post-bop musicians insist on ignoring the rock and R&B songs of the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s -- if they would open up their minds, they would realize that worthwhile popular music didn't die with George Gershwin or Cole Porter. Is Modern Man innovative? Certainly not, but it has its share of surprises and is well worth picking up for die-hard organ combo enthusiasts.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson