1970 Live Album Offers New Perspective on Roy Brooks’ Jazz


“I remember my childhood watching him alone and being scared to death,” Raheem Brooks, Brooks’ son, said in an interview. “For example, ‘Is he going to have a heart attack?’ A lot of power goes into him – you know, when he solos it goes in.”

Brooks has pushed her boundaries on and off stage and has struggled to manage her mental illness over the years.

“You read some stuff and I saw ‘Wild Man on the Drums’ or something like that,” Raheem Brooks said of seeing how his father was described. “It paints a really negative picture.” But Brooks remembers his father as a tireless, disciplined artist whose passion for music was all-consuming.

“He was always working on something,” Raheem said. “I could be watching ‘The Twilight Zone’ or something and he’s playing steel drums behind me, working on something. Where he lived, there were instruments all over the house. Something comes to mind and solves it in a marimba or steel drums. Even work on the balcon.”

Brooks’ urge to play took decades. Mark Stryker, who wrote some of the forewords for “Understanding,” as well as his 2019 book “Jazz from Detroit,” said he saw Brooks excel in the 90s.

“When I saw him play, you felt like you were in the presence of a spirit,” Stryker said. “There was a shamanistic quality to Roy’s presence and playing. You definitely felt it. There was something beyond music going on with Roy.”

The promise of great jazz bands is that “you can have the same players playing the same tunes in the same place, and for some reason there’s this extra jolt of energy, electricity, and creativity that pushes the music to a higher plane.” invention.” On “understanding,” he said, “I think that’s it.”


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