Baton Rouge’s Charles Brooks is no ordinary jazz drummer. He’s Louisiana’s only actively performing four-mallet jazz vibraphonist known for his wildly innovative improvisational techniques.
The percussionist, composer, clinician, educator and founder of the Mid City Jazz Festival will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at the Dyson House Listening Room with his group, The Charles Brooks Collective.
In between classes, lectures and percussion practice, Brooks made time for a few quick questions ahead of the show.
What about the experimental side of percussion is so fascinating to you?
There is a spirit within every percussion instrument that continues to live, even after the tree from which they are made is cut down. Every drum, every percussion instrument, every tuning bar, has a life of its own, so there are many different sides that exist. Every drum is capable of making a thousand different sounds if you know how to ask it properly.
Percussion instruments aren't inanimate objects that make pretty sounds; they're a living part of who I am as a person, as a teacher, as a musician and as a performer. There's a complex mode of communication that evolves after you experience the life of the drum or other percussion instrument firsthand.
What does the term "jazz fusion" mean in relation to The Charles Brooks Collective?
I have a new vehicle with which to express myself, and that vehicle is banded into four parts: vibraphone, bass, guitar and drums. Each player brings performance practices and their experiences with those instruments. That creates a complex relationship, becoming another vessel through which I speak. For me, the term means to bring multiple factors from different areas to combine and form a completely new thing, which becomes another vehicle for our self-expression.
What can the audience expect from a live performance?
My ultimate goal always is to move people in some fashion, to affect them cerebrally, emotionally. To connect with the person who has worked all week and give them just a moment of time where they don't have to think about any of their stressors, or to connect with another artist who is inspired by what they've just heard me play. The audience can expect an experience that will transport them on a journey wrapped up in an eclectic celebration of music.
Do you have any advice for musicians wishing to be more creative with sounds but wary as the market may be unwelcoming?
To do what is proper and necessary to make your money. That means musicians wind up playing gigs that aren't artistically fulfilling in order to have the time to do the things that are. The industry is never going to fully embrace experimental music as a mainstream entity, so what we as musicians have to do is support ourselves through the industry while at the same time using that to free us up to make things that we know the world needs.
The Charles Brooks Collective
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Dyson House Listening Room, 7575 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge
Cost: $15 online at brownpapertickets.com