between musicians from India, South America, Europe and Japan.
"We had 16 musicians who had mostly never met," he said. "We had a Greek speaker with no translator, a Japanese musician with no translator, and others from India, South America, all over the place. We had one day to rehearse, and without exception every one of these virtuoso musicians were terror-struck, except for Bob. He just said, 'Don't worry, I'm the hub here, plug your spokes in and here's what we're going to do.'
"The very next day we were in front of 20,000 people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, with a 16-man band, and one day of rehearsal. I don't know any other musicians who had cajones like that."
The secret to his collaborative success, he told the Sentinel in 2000, was a deeply thought-out approach that involved educating himself about a given culture, understanding music's place in that culture, figuring out the body language of how musicians communicate comfort or discomfort, and anthropological cues -- "observing pupil diameter, facial movement, respiration and fine muscle movement so that I'm as empathetic as possible toward how a person approaches their music and their instrument."
Brozman was severely injured in a car accident in 1980, and carried pain with him the rest of his life. Still, he kept up a prodigious traveling schedule that brought him to almost every corner of the globe.
He had been popular in Germany, France and the U.K. for years, and had played to sold-out audiences in Spain, Italy and Australia. He played widely in Japan, and was known to perform in unusual places such as Singapore.
NEWS TRAVELS FAST
Thomas, who has been Brozman's closest musical ally for the past 20 years, said he spent much of the day on Thursday calling people all over the world with the news of Brozman's passing. Soon, his email folders began filling up.
"It's astonishing to me," said Thomas, "how many people I don't know who know Bob's work and who managed to find me online to express their grief. I've received about a thousand messages in the past six hours, from people I don't even know who have the albums and getting the albums out and thinking, 'Who can I say this to? Who can I tell how important he was to me, even though I never knew him.' "
Born: March 8, 1954, New York City
Died: April 23, 2013, Santa Cruz
Survivors: Wife Haley S. Robertson; daughter Zoe Brozman
Education: Washington University in St. Louis
Career: First emerged as a street and club musician in Santa Cruz before becoming a recording artist and world-touring musician. Released his first solo album in 1981, 'Blue Hula Stomp,' and released about 30 albums after, including many collaborations with musicians from all over the world. Authored the definitive work on National steel guitars 'The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments.'
(c)2013 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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