Bob Brozman, guitarist, ethnomusicologist, collector, slide-guitar virtuoso, wizard of the National Resophonic – master of so many musical styles – has died. He was 59 years old. It’s been reported as unknown cause at this stage; that cruel journalistic shorthand for what is not “allowed” to be reported.
Brozman sounded fighting fit and alive and all powerful – inspired, inspiring – on his most recent album, his 25th, reviewed just a month or so ago here at Off The Tracks.
That album, Fire In The Mind, was just the most recent example of his visionary playing, the scope, the passion. I loved American House Fire Blues; I loved so much on that record, hints at Ry Cooder and John Hiatt and so many things in-between.
Brozman was an archivist, a lecturer, considered a walking encyclopaedia of American musics; of so many flavours of world music. He created an important series of Hawaiian music compilations, documenting the rich history. And in his own playing we were lucky to hear someone who always put the music first but poured so much of himself – his personality, his knowledge, skill – into the work.
I never got to see Brozman perform but in recent years he visited New Zealand for WOMAD and wowed audience with his series of shows and workshops. You only need to visit YouTube to find so many great examples of his brilliant playing.
His masterful approach was matched by his ability to entertain. And of course to educate.
For that he will be missed. His music – so much of it, across so many genres, filling in blanks, offering new portholes – is out there. Do check it out.