George Brooks is an award-winning saxophonist and composer, acclaimed for successfully bridging the worlds of jazz and Indian classical music. He is the founder of seminal Indian fusion groups; Summit with Zakir Hussain; Bombay Jazz with Ronu Majumdar and Larry Coryell; Raga Bop Trio with Steve Smith and Prasanna; Kirwani Quartet with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Elements with Kala Ramnath and Dutch harpist, Gwyneth Wentink.
Brooks began his study of jazz with Count Basie saxophonist, Frank Foster, and continued his studies at the New England Conservatory of Music with George Russell, Joe Allard and Jaki Byard. After graduating, Brooks traveled to India where he met master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath and began his study of Indian Classical Music. His albums, “Lasting Impression” and “Night Spinner”, released on Zakir Hussain’s Moment Records and subsequent recordings “Summit” and “Spirit and Spice” for Earth Brother Music are regarded as ground breaking work in the realm where jazz and Indian classical music intersect. Brooks returned to the US in the early 80’s and began his long association with composer/pianist Terry Riley with whom he toured extensively in duo settings, in trios with sitarist Krishna Bhatt and as a member of Riley’s Khayal Ensemble. In addition to his work with India’s leading musicians, Brooks has performed with such genre defining artists as Etta James, Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, Talvin Singh, Kronos Quartet, The Temptations, Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek. Brooks was a featured soloist on John McLaughlin’s 2008 Grammy nominated “Floating Point” CD.
As a composer, Brooks has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, EnActe Arts,Natya Dance Theater, Opera Piccola, Navarasa Dance Theater, Intermusic SF, Arts International, California Jazz Conservatory, USArtists, New Music USA, Mosaic America, Real Vocal String Quartet, SFMOMA, Met Life Creative Connections and Gwyneth Wentink. His compositions have been performed by Yo-Yo Ma, members of the Liverpool Philharmonic, and can be heard in the Merchant/Ivory film, “The Mystic Masseur”.
In addition to performing and composing, Brooks has taught on the faculties of UC Santa Cruz, Mills College and the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, CA and leads master classes at colleges and schools around the world.
Photo credit: Irene Young