Cedric Brooks, born August 26, 1943, in Kingston, Jamaica, was a highly influential Jamaican saxophonist and flutist who contributed greatly to the development of reggae, ska, and dub music throughout his career. A versatile and innovative musician, Brooks was known for his unique style, blending various musical genres and incorporating elements of Rastafarian culture into his work.
Brooks’ musical journey began at a young age when he attended the renowned Alpha Boys School in Kingston, a Catholic institution known for nurturing the talents of some of Jamaica’s finest musicians. At the school, Brooks received training in clarinet, flute, and saxophone, laying the foundation for his future career in music.
In the late 1960s, Brooks began playing with various bands and musicians, including the legendary ska band, The Skatalites, and the acclaimed trombonist Don Drummond. His early work included collaborations with popular Jamaican producers, such as Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd, contributing to the development of the reggae and ska sound that would become synonymous with Jamaica.
Brooks’ innovation and creativity shone through in his work with the avant-garde reggae band The Light of Saba, which he co-founded with Count Ossie in the early 1970s. The group seamlessly integrated African and Caribbean rhythms, jazz, and Rastafarian influences into their music, pushing the boundaries of reggae and creating a unique sound that resonated with audiences both in Jamaica and internationally.
One of Brooks’ most well-known and enduring compositions is the instrumental track “Im Flash Forward,” which showcases his exceptional skills as a saxophonist and composer. This piece, along with others like “Give Rasta Glory” and “Africa,” highlights Brooks’ ability to infuse traditional reggae with new and innovative ideas, making his music an important part of the evolution of Jamaican music.
Throughout his career, Brooks recorded and performed with numerous musicians and bands, including the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, The Sound Dimension, and The Upsetters. His collaborations spanned across various genres, further solidifying his status as a pioneering and versatile musician.
Cedric Brooks passed away on May 3, 2013, at the age of 70. His contributions to Jamaican music, particularly reggae and ska, have left an indelible mark on the genre and continue to inspire musicians and music lovers around the world.
Last updated 3/18/2023.