He was also featured in ensembles led by Gunther Schuller, Jimmy Guiffre, and Slide Hampton. In 1979, Brooks moved to California where he met composer Terry Riley and sitarist Krishna Bhatt. Improvising with these musicians ignited an interest in Indian music. Brooks’ fascination with this music took him on two extended trips to India where he met and studied with master vocalist, Pandit Pran Nath. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Brooks regularly toured and concertized with Terry Riley. Together they performed in the U.S., Europe and Japan, often with sitarist Krishna Bhatt.
Brooks was a founding member of the unique Khayal ensemble, Riley’s polyrhythmic improvisational chamber group. He premiered and recorded Riley’s “June Buddhas” with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and premiered Riley’s “New Islands” at P/N Hall in Tokyo. In 1996, Zakir Hussain and Moment Records released LASTING IMPRESSION, Brooks’ CD debut as a leader. This highly acclaimed recording sparked a relationship between Brooks and Hussain that has led to concerts worldwide and the recording of NIGHT SPINNER, co-produced by Brooks and Hussain for Moment Records. These CDs, featuring Brooks’s original compositions, have been touted as the best Indian/jazz fusion since John Mclaughlin’s Shakti.
The success of these recordings has propelled Brooks to perform with many of India’s top classical artists including Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Sultan Khan, Aashish Khan and Swapan Chauduri as well as most of India’s best known fusion artists. Brooks also maintains a high profile in the jazz and blues worlds. He has toured with and arranged for blues diva, Etta James and has worked with such distinctive artists as Anthony Braxton, Albert Collins, Turtle Island String Quartet, Larry Coryell and Henry Kaiser. He was recently featured on the Yo Miles CD (Shanachie) with Kaiser and Leo Smith. These diverse and demanding experiences give him a deep intuitive understanding of the world’s many musical forms. His unique melodic voice, expressed through rich tone, technical fluency and dynamic stage presence makes him a much sought-after performer.
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