CD Reviews of A Decade Of Favorites

 2004 John Kelman

ejazznews  Jan. 12,

A Decade Of Favorites Review: Saxophonist Bob Brough has been a fixture on the Toronto jazz scene for over thirty years. His smoky, relaxed tone recalls vintage Stan Getz, while his harmonic adventures bring to mind early John Coltrane. With A Decade of Favorites he culls some of his favourite tracks from a period of over ten years, and the result is a highly listenable collection of mainstream jazz, with the occasional quirk.

Recorded at a number of studios, as well as Toronto’s infamous Montreal Bistro, one of the more remarkable things about the recording is that, while the pieces come from different places and different times, sonically they all sound like they come from one place and one time. This is timeless music, recorded in a straightforward fashion without any trickery that might otherwise date it.

Most of the material is written by either Brough or pianist Stan Fomin, who is featured on six of the ten tracks. Brough’s material tends to be a little more on the mainstream side, while Fomin leans a little more to the modern. The lightly swinging “Iles Du Salut” presents an extended theme that is more angular, with time stops and starts that break things up; it is, however, one of the more intriguing tracks on the album. Fomin’s “Remember Rio” is a light bossa that firmly establishes Brough’s connection with Getz.

Fomin also provides an arrangement of the John Lewis standard, “An Afternoon in Paris”, which swings along comfortably; bassist Artie Roth and drummer Kevin Brow, both members of Brough’s current quartet along with Fomin, have a strong sense of swing, and comfortably underpin Brough’s solo, which is arguably his best on the album. Fomin demonstrates a clear reverence for both Lewis’ writing and playing, but occasionally interjects oblique lines that recall something of Thelonious Monk. Roth’s solo combines the lyricism of Ray Brown with the dexterity of Dave Holland; Brow’s solo demonstrates a musicality that is all too rare for percussionists.

Bassist Chris Jennings’ “Riyaz” is a Middle-Eastern-inflected tune that is the only trio tune on the CD. The snakelike theme leads into a vamp over which Brough solos before moving into an ostinato for drummer Barry Romberg’s ethnic-informed solo.

The Bob Brough/Sonja Tran closer, “Today”, features Carol McCartney on vocals, over a light Latin feel. This track, along with “An Afternoon in Paris” and the Brough original, “Sweet Jessica,” feature Brough’s current quartet and there is a clear chemistry between the players.

A Decade of Favorites collects some of Bob Brough’s favourite recordings from the past ten years. This would appear to be the first CD released under Brough’s name; for fans of mainstream jazz one can only hope that this will not be the last.

2004 Paul Brodie"The Ambassador Of The Saxophone"

A Decade Of Favorites

Personal Communication (used with permission): "Rima and I really enjoyed your EXCELLENT CD as we drove back home to Muskoka. YOU MUST RECORD MANY MORE CDs!"

2004 Len Dobbin -  Montreal Mirror Feb. 5 – 11,

A Decade of Favorites (RHB)
Bennie Wallace The Nearness of You (Enja-Justin Time/Fusion III)

A pair of tenormen, both sadly underappreciated. Brough (pronounced like "rough") is an institution in Toronto and this CD is a document of some of his favourite work spanning the years '92 to 2001 and, other than John Lewis's "Afternoon In Paris," the focus is on original material. Artie Roth, Mike Downes, Barry Romberg and Bob McLaren are among the supporting cast.

Wallace, meanwhile, is a Tennessee native and, in a program of standards including "Some Other Spring" and "Crazy He Calls Me," Kenny Barron and Eddie Gomez supply first-rate support. Both 9/10                                                                

2004, Michael P. Gladstone, All About Jazz,

A Decade Of Favorites

Bob Brough, a veteran Toronto saxophonist, has produced his first solo album after appearing on 20 recording dates. With the exception of John Lewis' “Afternoon in Paris,” he provides nine original compositions documented by three separate groups recorded in 2001 and 2003.

I can say this about Brough's playing: I did not tire at all listening to him blowing for 74 minutes. To these untrained ears, the nine tracks sound like modal compositions, and if you were comfortable with the Atlantic

Coltrane period of the early '60s, you'll find some comfort here. He also gives a very credible soprano sax reading on “All Ways Lovely.” The album opens with an uptempo “Interior” and continues with “Sweet

Jessica.” On the latter, Brough builds a nice head of steam up in his solo followed by Fomin on piano and Roth's bass.

“Daisy” is an attractive ballad played soulfully by Brough on tenor. Another ballad, “Lullabye” starts with an unaccompanied Brough, then with added piano and then per a heavy backbeat from Mark Adams' drums, turns this number into something that sounds like an instrumental version of a Top 40 power ballad. Carol McCartney appears to sing Brough's original lyrics on the closing track, “Today.” The somewhat confusing personnel changes seem attributable to the three separate recording venues. Brough's working group today consists of Stan Fomin, piano; Artie Roth, bass; and Kevin Brow, drums.

Excerpts from reviews: the Quartet in live performance

1993: Geoff Chapman - Toronto Star – from Review of a concert at the Toronto Science Centre. "…fascinating, exciting duels with bustling drummer Bob McLaren…Bob's other sidemen, bass Mike Downes and pianist Mark Zaret, were given ample chance to show off their skills. Downes, comfortable in all modes, and Zaret's quiet two-handed creations, are a useful contrast to the booming statements from the tenor sax."

 1993: Mark Miller – The Globe and Mail – from Review of a performance at the Pilot Tavern "…if there's an unsung musician on the Toronto Jazz scene, it's probably Bob Brough. …His approach has its basis in the style of John Coltrane, moderated by the lyrical grace and dark, smoky tone of a Stan Getz…His delivery is the thing, finally… honest and heartfelt in a way that slowly but surely elevates his ideas and transcends his influences."

1998: Geoff Chapman - Toronto Star – from News article,  "…straight-ahead tenor sax playing that nods to the styles of many forebears but somehow comes up sounding just like … Bob Brough. Stan Fomin and Bob have started a new quartet … The rhythm battery is a pair of relative youngsters in the U of T jazz program – bassist Chris Jennings and drummer Mark Adam."

2000: Geoff Chapman – from Review of a concert at the Toronto Science Centre. "Bob Brough and Stan Fomin, together with the very promising rhythm tandem of Jennings and Adams did themselves proud. Meaty sound, flowing ideas and a thorough grounding in tradition you expect from Brough, who's playing as well as ever, but Fomin adds fascinating elements to this band. His unusual harmonic choices and free play with time impressed, as did Jennings' confident melodicism and Adams' loose, enterprising approach….all scored on a complex Fomin original,…"