Requiem for a jazz legend: Art Broomes
By Tangerine Clarke
March 28, 2003
Stompin' at The Green Shrimp
Guyana's jazz legend Art Broomes died recently at the age of 79. He is remembered by jazz fans for his many inspiring performances over the years. Below, we set out a tribute from his friend Stanley Greaves and extracts from an article captioned "Requiem for a Jazz Legend" by his niece Tangerine Clarke which appeared in the Caribbean Life newspaper in New York.
I remember coming home from school all excited to hear Art practise with his band the Magnificent 7- one of the first bands he would lead to prominence. He had a flair for exciting his audience. He would end a session with a crescendo of drumming that brought loud, lingering applause.
I was told by Culture enthusiast Vibert Cambridge that during a period in the seventies, Green Shrimp bar in Georgetown, was the place where Art's music fusion manifested as the essence of the group The Commune.
Musician Roy Seales remembers Art as being very close to his musician father and Gems - a record bar where musicians went to play and dream a little.
In the studio, he said, "we always had a full set of premier drums set up, where Art would stop in at least twice a week. My father would say to me, call some of your buddies and let them hear how brushes are used. Art had wonderful technique. He was a fantastic drummer. My father used to say "a great drummer makes a great band."
Pianist Hugh Sam's last gig with Art was four years ago in Guyana, when Edith Pieters put on a Coral session that needed a jazz drummer and pianist. "It was a reunion for us since the last time we played together was on an album titled "A Saxful of Harry".
"He was a pleasure to work with. His soft voice and gentlemanly behaviour were always a welcome sound and sight. He was a very good drummer who was always listening to what was going on around him. Thank goodness I can still hear him on "Saxful" that really shows off his talent.
Even though Art was not formally trained as a musician, he was hailed as the greatest drummer of all-time. You see Art Broomes loved to play the drums. And play he did.
He worked with the likes of saxophonist Harry Whittaker, Tom Charles and the Syncopators, Nona Permaul and the Playboys, Bumble and the Saints, Hugh Sam of the 560 Jazz Quartet, Keith Proctor, and the Yaruba Singers among a host of others. Literally everyone played with him. And loved him.
Art's joy in playing the drums was only matched by his joy of influencing the Jazz life in Guyana. It became a life long obsession. Wherever he went, he would strike up a beat.
He would spend the last days of his career, as an instructor in the Guyana Defence Force, creating a new era of great drumming.