Jazz guitarist shares passion for music as he mentors others

CHICAGO — He’s an accomplished jazz guitarist who has played alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. With a career that spans decades, Bobby Broom credits much of his success to having a passion for music as well as important mentors. 

Broom is a professional jazz guitarist, composer and as of last summer, associate professor of jazz studies at Northern Illinois University.  

Broom first picked up the guitar at age 12 and it and the sounds of legendary guitarist George Benson left a lasting impression. 

“That really just kind of changed my life,” he said. “That day, I decided I wanted to pursue music and jazz on the guitar.”

Broom is a native New Yorker. He hit the professional scene earlier, while still in high school. He played with some of the jazz greats at an impressionable young age.   

 He also worked alongside legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins both in New York and in Chicago, which he has called home since 1986.   

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But along with his success has come a commitment to give back. 

For the past 24 years broom has helped students with the Ravinia Jazz Mentor Program, aprogram that partners mentors with Chicago high school students who love jazz. 

With a degree in jazz education, Broom says his teaching philosophy is to share his experience and knowledge and train the students to listen by ear. 

Broom still works his “day job” though playing live performances and gigs with his band the Bobby Broom Trio. He’s hopeful his students take away from his instruction the art of compassion and sharing and his audience an appreciation for the art of jazz.   

“Jazz is a very democratic art, its founded on a group and teamwork and those kind of principles which would be great if they were more celebrated,” he said. 

Broom has just released his 14th album “Keyed Up.”