Release Date:
August 25, 2009

Reviewed by:
Michelle Tauton

It Is What It Is, the new CD by bassist Brian Bromberg, is his 17th release, adding to an impressive discography for the artist, whose solo career goes back to 1986. Bromberg, known for taking the bass to levels never before heard, doesn’t disappoint on this latest effort, packing 13 songs onto the CD. Bromberg, as usual, plays several different basses on the album: tenor bass, 5-string bass, 4-string bass, upright bass, fretless bass, hollow body piccolo bass, steel sting acoustic piccolo bass, you name it. He’s supported by an outstanding horn section, consisting of Willie Murillo and Tony Guerrero on trumpet, Eric Marienthal on alto and baritone saxes, Gary Meek on tenor sax, and Dave Ryan on trombone.

The CD opens with a punch from the horn section on the title tune, an infectious melody that features solos by Patrice Rushen on piano and Gary Brecker on trumpet, in addition to Bromberg’s bass solo. Next up is “Love Shack” – yes, the B52s’ “Love Shack.” It’s not a song you’d immediately think of giving the smooth jazz treatment to, but it works here. Bromberg’s version is slightly more mellow than the B52s’ version, but only very slightly.

“Excuse Me?” allows the horn section to shine, while “Life” dials down the tempo and features a beautiful piano solo by George Duke. The tempo picks back up with “Elephants on Ice Skates,” definitely the most intriguing song title on the disc. “The Mirror” is a completely solo performance by Bromberg on tenor bass, with a lonely, melancholy feel to it.

The attitude quickly shifts with “Sanford and Son,” a light, fun take on the TV show’s theme song, with Gary Meek doing double duty on tenor sax and flute. This is followed by “Mr. Miller,” a tune that’s a bit sassy, and features Gerald Albright on alto sax. The next song asks the question, “Martinis at the Velvet Lounge?” Why, yes, I’d like that very much. The song feels like an impromptu smoky jazz club jam session between Bromberg and Gary Meek on flute and sax.

“Saul Goode” and “The Anticipation” continue the fun vibe, while “Heaven” has a slight Latin feel to it. The CD ends on an upbeat, punchy note with “Slap Happy,” a fast-paced, high-energy song that lets Bromberg solo like a rock star, with some great backing drum work by Dave Weckl. It Is What It Is, and what this CD is is another versatile, outstanding showing for Brian Bromberg.

With All It Takes, the listener gets some mood music, some party music, some international flavor, Rick Braun’s rich trumpet sound, and a whole lot of fun.