If you recall where Great-Uncle Once Removed hung his zoot suit in the attic, you might want to head upstairs and take it out to the cleaners because the Garreth Broesche Trio may have you flipping your watch chain in the classic Warner Brothers cartoon fashion. A very fresh idea, possibly due to the sheer audacity of it: mandolin whiz Broesche (pronounced "BRAY-shuh") utilizes a 1930s/1940s small-group swing attitude as here he, Lindsay Green (bass), Paul Pearcy (drums) and Chris Gage (guitar, accordion) rip through some standards and a few tasty originals. One might have expected to hear this sort of thing at the former speakeasies and the frat house parties of the day. It's not like time has stopped (you'll know that when you hear the lads expertly navigate the melody of Juan Tizol's "Caravan" or buzzsaw through Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" [n.b. J.D. Pendley plays guitar and Rob Jewett bass instead of Gage and Pearcy on those two, respectively]). The quick-step Broesche tune "My New Girlfriend" just cries out for a Manhattan Transfer reading (especially the delicious "And she treats me nice like you would never do!"). Was this the music playing on the bandstand early on in Tom Pynchon's GRAVITY'S RAINBOW when Tyrone Slothrop jumps into the toilet to retrieve his harmonica? Wouldn't be surprised. For the slow dancers, how about a "Funny Valentine" with just the right innuendo? And Broesche can sing, he has a matter-of-fact delivery not far off that of Michael Feinstein's. Not too sophisticated to ruin the mood!
Opening the CD, "Blue Moose" joins the other Swing Era archetypes of the "cool cat" and the "alligator" (as in "see ya later..."), and Hoagy Carmichaelís "Lazybones" has the appropriate easy-rolling fluency. I was a bit disappointed that the cheery "Nice Work if You Can Get It" is an instrumental - nice one, though - and the old chestnut "I'm Coming, Virginia" (same substitutions as "Caravan" and "Straight" includes a quote from a Rolling Stones ballad that doesn't add much to the track at all. But the closing "Straight, No Chaser" pins my ears back every time, and how can one complain about a CD that made one realize a mandolin isn't necessarily just something Pogo Possum's buddy Churchy LaFemme kept his lunch in?
by Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, May 2003 issue, all rights reserved