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BIOGRAPHY

NEW ORLEANS JAZZ ROOTS

Bob Brockmann started training his ear in jazz trumpet at a young age. His father was a jazz pianist, and Bob spent much of his early years listening to him play in the bar his parents owned in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He later moved to Vienna, Virginia after his parents divorced, but he always stayed connected to his New Orleans birthplace, visiting his father regularly there. He excelled in the jazz program and his other studies at Oakton High School, absorbing recordings from the jazz greats and catching shows whenever he could at local clubs.

Armed with traditional jazz schooling, Bob went on to expand his skills at University of Miami’s renowned Music and Engineering program. It was there he discovered his love and natural talent for recording. He recorded many college concerts and jazz recitals, receiving 2 awards from Downbeat Magazine for mixes he submitted.

THE BIRTH OF HIP HOP

After graduating from college, Bob moved to New York City with no defined plan for how he could keep himself afloat using his musical talent. But his work ethic persisted. After sending out letters to 175 different studios without any replies, he found himself begging for a job at Ralston Recording in the Bed Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. Studio manager and Chief Engineer Akili Walker (author of Turn the Horns On) was impressed with Bob’s determination and gave him a job with a weekly paycheck.

At Ralston, Bob thrived under the mentorship of Akili, and his classically trained ear was challenged as he studied and recorded hip hop pioneers flow over beats. His first session was recording iconic hip hop emcees Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh’s “The Show,” which is considered to be one of the most classic pieces of hip hop history. Bob’s exposure to the creativity and talent of the artists that surrounded him led him to quickly embrace hip hop as an art form.

MAKING HITS

Bob’s perspective was further expanded when he started working at Secret Sound studios in Manhattan, while he still did work on the side at Ralston. His mentor at Secret Sound was Tom Gartland, who used experimental techniques in his approach to mixing and shared with Bob a valuable, “no rules” approach. During this time, Bob got his nickname “Bassy Bob” from producer/musician Randy Muller who was blown away by a bass part that Bob laid down during one of his sessions. He started to gain some momentum in the New York music scene, and his breakthrough came when Madonna’s keyboard player, Fred Zarr, hired him to mix 14-year-old Debbie Gibson’s song “Only in My Dreams.” The song became a Gold single, and Bob had his first hit at 22 years old.

Bob immersed himself in music entering the 90’s, not only as an engineer, but also as a horn player in his funk group the Brooklyn Funk Essentials. Another big break in his mixing career came when he was working with DeVante Swing of Jodeci on a remix of an early Mary J. Blige song. This led to a fortunate meeting with Sean “Puffy” Combs, who was an A&R guy for Uptown at the time. Soon, he was running a session for Biggie Smalls’ Ready to Die album. For the next 5 years, he worked with Puffy to make quality records for his Bad Boy record label, in addition to a steady stream of work for several other major labels.

Bob spent a lot of time with Biggie and Mary J. Blige at the Hit Factory studio. He was later introduced to Craig Mack and mixed his record. Craig Mack’s song “Flava in Ya Ear” took off and turned out to be one of the most successful hip hop singles in history. Through Puffy, Bob got connected with he LaFace label, for which he mixed TLC’s hit song “Waterfalls” and Toni Braxton’s Secrets album. Bob secured his reputation as one of the best in the business, recording many platinum and award-winning records during this period.

Bob expanded into all genres of music as he continued to grow in his career. Among the accolades Bob has received for his engineering work are 3 Grammy Nominations for the albums Life on a String by Laurie Anderson, The Day by Babyface, and the Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack in the category of “Best Engineered Album.”

EDUCATION & PUBLISHING

In addition to being a world-class mixer, Bob is also highly respected as a producer, musician, and educator. He takes every opportunity to expand his knowledge and share what he’s learned as more becomes possible all the time with digital technology.

Recognizing the importance of mentorship, Bob started an online education series called “Elements of Mixing” that includes hands-on classes where others can benefit from his many years of mixing experience. He and his business partner, Reghu Rahman, have worked together to hone the Elements of Mixing format and are currently finalizing new videos that will debut in early 2015. Bob is also teaching Music Production and Music Entrepreneurship at Long Island University.

In 2013, Bob moved into the realm of music publishing for the independent bands produces including Maya Solovey, The Major Leans, and Grand Opening. He now works directly with 15 writers who are all contributing music regularly for Advertising, TV and Film.