Guitarist Bobby Broom succeeds brilliantly where many have tried and failed: he’s made an album of jazz cover versions of ’60s pop tunes that works as pop homage and as jazz. Most jazz players don’t respect or understand post-Beatles pop music enough to transform it into anything interesting in jazz terms, but Broom’s affection for the music seems genuine, and his insight into how pop songs work as jazz is unfailing. He tweaks Sly Stone’s "Stand" with tart harmonies; he speeds up the Turtles’ "Happy Together" so it sounds like ’50s Coltrane. These may be little touches, but they’re just enough to give the material some interest for a jazz group.
It also helps that Broom is a mainstream guitarist with his own sound and ideas. His long, even phrases ebb and flow with their own sense of time, and a hint of country blues grounds his polished urban sound. He also works with a witty and supportive band. Drummer Dana Hall is a major revelation, a powerhouse whose independently moving patterns dance around the beat and drive the playing. Bassist Dennis Carroll keeps finding inventive ways to anchor the complex, fluid music. They have a nice, lived-in group interplay, and on "I Can See Clearly Now" and "The Letter" they swing with the loose unity that only really tight outfits get. Broom makes modest claims for this album: "My intention is not to make any statement other than a personal, musical one," he says in the liner notes. If that’s so, this is a classic case of a personal statement that says something universal.