Bob Brozman was born in New York in 1954. Like most great musicians, he takes his craft very seriously while maintaining the infectious sense of fun that inspired him as a child to pick up an instrument and play. "When I was a kid," Bob jokes, "I told my dad I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. He told me 'Son, it's one or the other.'"
Best known for his virtuoso mastery of steel guitar, `ukulele and standard guitar, Bob is also a dedicated scholar. His book, THE HISTORY AND ARTISTRY OF NATIONAL RESONATOR INSTRUMENTS, is recognized as the most authoritative work on the subject to date. He frequently lectures at schools and is increasingly involved with workshops and music camps. He has also produced many albums. Especially dear to his heart is a film he is making on the incredible adventures of Tau and Rose Moe. "The Moes were very influential in the worldwide spread of Hawaiian music in general, and the steel guitar in particular," Bob says. He is also currently championing the music of Debashish Bhattacharya, a Calcutta-based slide guitarist of remarkable power and originality. Bob and Debashish have toured together and recently recorded an album of duets, soon to be released in India. It will also be available through Bob's website (www.bobbrozman.com). "We both draw on our backgrounds but it's more than just East meets West. Really it's universal human music full of mutual love, respect and incredible moments."
Since the mid-1990s, Bob has been spending a lot of quality time touring and recording with fellow Dancing Cat artist Led Kaapana. "He's a cultural treasure," Bob says, "one of the greatest guitarists in the world, any style. He's an incredibly wide ranging player with amazing skill and unlimited creativity." Bob and Led recorded a duet album in 1997, KIKA KILA MEETS KI HO`ALU, and did two tracks for Led's 1998 release, WALTZ OF THE WIND.
Bob also recorded the 1999 album FOUR HANDS SWEET & HOT, with slack key guitar master Cyril Pahinui. These two master musicians have long admired each other's playing. "I really liked the CD Bob did with Led Kaapana," Cyril says. "When I heard he wanted to get together with me, I said 'sure.' The first time we met we jammed for three hours straight, one song after another without stopping." Bob has listened to Cyril since the 1970s. He enjoys his style, and relished the chance to make music with him. "His deep roots in Hawaiian music and jazz really speak to me," Bob says. "His unique rhythmic approach to Hawaiian music really informed and changed my playing, especially the rhythmic innovations."
Most recently, Bob and Led reunited for their second all acoustic album of duets, IN THE SADDLE (released on January 9, 2001). A treat for all guitar fans, this new Dancing Cat release gives both artists maximum freedom to stretch out and express themselves. While retaining the spontaneity of their first collaboration, it also reveals an added depth to Led and Bob's evolving musical relationship. "Since the first album, we've done about fifty concerts as a duo," Led says. "All that time together comes across on the new record. We sound very comfortable with each other."
"When we made the first CD, I knew only 1900 to 1935 steel playing," Bob adds. "Since then, Led and I have developed a nearly telepathic musical rapport. And I've developed a whole new language for accompanying slack key. But mainly, I've learned a lot about the act of playing music from this amazing guy I consider to be a genius."
IN THE SADDLE contains fourteen tracks: two vocals and twelve instrumentals. As with most Dancing Cat releases, the main emphasis is on creative interpretations of Hawaiian classics. These include familiar favorites, like Aloha Ia O Wai`anae and No Ke Ano Ahiahi, as well as rarities such as He Olu La No`u, last recorded by the great Sol Ho`opi`i in the 1920s. While both Led and Bob play with great love for tradition, they also enjoy adding their own touches. On Waialae Waltz, for example, they play with a strong 6/8 feel, giving the slack key standard a slight Mexican flavor. Indian musician Subhashis Bhattacharya also joins them on tabla, adding another unique ingredient.
Originals on IN THE SADDLE include Ami Ami Slack Key, and the title track, which marks Bob's debut on slack key guitar. "I've got to start catching up," he jokes, adding, with admiration, that Led is not only a great slack key guitarist, but also an `ukulele virtuoso, an autoharp picker, a bassist and an increasingly accomplished steel player.
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