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The One-Man Orchestra Who Learns By 'Broz-mosis'

Bob Brozman.
Courtesy of the artist
Bob Brozman.

On Lumiere, Bob Brozman is the orchestra. He plays the National Tricone, baglamas, charango, ukulele, baritone guitar, sanshin and, well, everything else.

"I begin with just a simple improvisation on one instrument," Brozman says. "And then I just start painting in very thin colors and layers."

The multi-instrumentalist, ethnomusicologist and educator is a master of classic blues from the '20s and '30s, but also a worthy performer of early jazz and ragtime. He has recorded many albums with collaborators all over the world as well as curated and recorded the celebrated Songs of the Volcano CD, which collects various string bands from Papa New Guinea.

His creative process consists of multiple reactions to himself while he is in the studio.

"The composing actually happens while I'm recording, so it really is an improvisation of each part," Brozman says. "But in addition it's kind of an emotional reaction to what I am hearing. And since I know my own breathing and my own muscle feeling I can make crescendos, I can speed up and slow down at will, and really sound like a group of guys reacting emotionally to each other."

Lumiere's music spans many genres, countries and cultures, what Brozman calls true "world music."

"There exists indigenous music, but you get the cross-fertilization of various instruments coming and going."

Brozman has traveled for decades, working in many countries and collaborating with many different musicians, gathering sonic input and synthesizing it all into his own music. He calls the process "Broz-mosis."

"It's something like when a dog is riding in a car with his nose sticking out the window," Brozman explains. "She's getting a high-speed olfactory movie going by. This is the same thing: Decades of sensibility coming in and 45 minutes of music coming out as a result."

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