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JAZZ REVIEW

A player's bass of influence

Brian Bromberg mixes genres in a tribute to a mentor, Jaco Pastorius, that features music from an album, future tour.

March 21, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Bassist Brian Bromberg is universally admired among his colleagues for his startlingly virtuosic mastery of both the acoustic and electric versions of his chosen instrument. Never content to solely emphasize his technical wizardry, he has moved effortlessly across genres, from straight-ahead jazz to smooth jazz to funk, R&B and all-purpose studio work.

His current effort mixes several of those elements into a tribute to one of Bromberg's primary influences, the late bass star Jaco Pastorius. An album, "Jaco," was released in October, and Bromberg is about to support it with a tour.

On Wednesday he offered a full-scale preview of the music for the tour (and from the album) in a performance with his five-piece band at La Ve Lee in Studio City. And two factors became immediately apparent: The first was that Bromberg is the perfect candidate to illustrate the playing of the remarkable Pastorius (who died in 1987 at age 35); the second was the impressive quality of Pastorius' compositions -- the work of an astonishingly inventive imagination.

Despite Bromberg's frequent admonitions to his audience to "be kind" to renderings that were still in the process of preparation, the performances were generally well done. Starting out with "Come On, Come Over" -- a hard-driving R&B piece that featured the inimitable Sam & Dave in the original -- the program proceeded through the rocking "Teen Town," a virtuosic Bromberg version of "Continuum" and an engaging "Remark You Made."

By the time the group drove into a body-moving "Chicken," the music had come fully alive, filling the room with the essence of Pastorius' incomparable musical magic

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