REVIEW: “Bromberg Plays Hendrix” By Brian Bromberg Is A Dazzling Display Of Bass Playing Virtuosity



It was in 2012 when renowned jazz bassist Brian Bromberg first unleashed his audacious and altogether brilliant instrumental album Bromberg Plays Hendrix into the music world and now in September 2020, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the tragic and untimely passing of Hendrix, we find that the bass player virtuoso is set to digitally release a newly remixed and remastered edition of this modern classic. 

With Bromberg using only his fretless and piccolo basses to generate the Hendrix guitar sounds on the record, the bass player extraordinaire creates, with this collection of songs, a work that easily deserves to be considered one of the most amazing musical achievements of the 21st century. It is such a stunning display of bass playing virtuosity that when listening to his aural onslaught on the album, accompanied only by the great drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, you have to constantly remind yourself as a listener that the sounds that Bromberg is creating are only coming from his vast arsenal of bass guitars and that there was not a single electric guitar used to achieve his distinctive sound on the record. 

A number of Hendrix’s most memorable songs are given the Bromberg treatment on the album – “Fire,” “Manic Depression,” “Freedom,” “All Along The Watchtower,” “Foxey Lady,” “Hey Joe,” “Crosstown Traffic,” “Spanish Castle Magic” and “Purple Haze” are all here as well a singular original tune titled “Jimi,” which serves as Bromberg’s blazing personal tribute to the great guitarist. All display Bromberg’s breathtaking and spectacular ability to combine Hendrix’s vast and sprawling sound with his own impeccable jazz sensibilities.

Whenever one great musical artist takes on a project like this, in which he or she seeks to honor another great artist, it is always, in a sense, a musically courageous act. It requires boldness and supreme confidence of talent as well as a prodigious sense of fearlessness to pull it off in a way that you don’t end up sounding like a cheap imitator. Greatness has to meet greatness for it to work and when it does, the results can be awe-inspiring and wondrous. In that spirit, I believe with this record, Bromberg has created one of the truest and most sincere interpretations of Hendrix’ music ever recorded. It honors the great guitarist’s lexicon while simultaneously demonstrating how you can take the magnificent sounds that Hendrix created and take them to the next level, which I believe Jimi would have been thrilled by.

The cover of this album – that of a can of lighter fluid – fits the album perfectly in that not only does it conjure up the image of Hendrix gloriously setting his guitar ablaze at the end of his set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, it also serves as an apt and clear metaphor for the fire emanating from Bromberg’s playing on this record as well. If you are a Hendrix, jazz, or just a music fan, you should do yourself a favor and push play on these songs on whatever listening service you use and sit back and listen to how Brian Bromberg can light your eardrums up with this wonderful and stupendous record.

Bromberg Plays Hendrix,2020 Remixed and Remastered Edition (Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group) was self-produced by Brian Bromberg and was co-remixed, co-remastered, and co-engineered by Tom McCauley. It is now available on the artist’s website

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