BROOKS & DAY
Sometimes, if the energy is just right, our hearts and ears are specially attuned and the creative energy between two people is free-flowing and intuitive, the Universe speaks. Decades after they first jammed together in a folk jazz band post high school, lifelong friends and on and off collaborators Ben Brooks (flute and keyboards) and Peter Day (guitar and keyboards) discovered an uncanny, improvisational musical synergy that is beyond rational explanation. Channeling the spirit to create one of new age music’s most unexpected, heartfelt and soulful collaborations ever, Brooks & Day are sharing with the world what they can only define as Mystic Messages – the perfect title for their exquisitely crafted and produced debut album.
Released by their label Daybrook Records, the nine-track collection also features the percussive magic of Rich Mangicaro (Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Michael McDonald) and additional keyboards and percussion of renowned contemporary jazz artist Rob Mullins, who also mixed the music. Overcoming the distractions of other professional commitments and the distance between Brooks’ home in Pasadena and Day’s in the Southern California High Desert region. Brooks & Day committed their time to record the essential tracks in the Rock Room, Brooks’ home studio with windows that offer a beautiful and inspiring 180-degree view of foliage in the San Gabriel mountains near Los Angeles.
The two then added orchestration and handed the songs to Mullins for him to add extra synth, piano, keys and bass before mixing. The project was mastered by Rich Mouser. Peter says, “I marvel at the magical pixie dust Rob sprinkled on top of our music. I especially love the soulful, Stevie Wonder-esque Moog synth lines he added to our songs!”
Speaking of the origins of the sessions that evolved into Mystic Messages, Brooks says, “Peter would arrive at my home studio every other Saturday. We would talk about our lives for a little while, then simply punch the ‘record’ button and just start jamming. That’s where these recordings began. We added the orchestration and percussion later, but the original recording was just guitar and flute and Kork Karma keyboard, when Peter felt like playing it. We really had no expectations or agenda.”
From the gentle and ambient dreaminess of the opening track “Sacred City” (which introduces us to Brooks’ alternately graceful and soaring/whimsical flute energy) through the title track “Mystic Messages” (which builds towards a powerful fusion of Brooks’ flute and Day’s acoustic guitar), Brooks and Day effortlessly ease from pure sensual relaxation to dynamic and delightfully jazzy global fusion passion. “I believe that our conversations in the Rock Room informed the improvisations that ensued,” Brooks adds. “For instance, ‘A Song for My Father’ is named aptly. The day we recorded that piece, Peter and I were musing on our respective fathers’ passings. The music that flowed through us reflected the poignancy of this conversation.”
Day adds, “Some of our improvisations have surprised us. ‘No Regrets,’ for instance, is a spontaneous 6-minute musical tome that we created out of whole cloth. We felt like, where did that come from? We were both shocked at its cohesiveness after we recorded it.”
Both Brooks and Day bring a unique array of life and musical experience to their Mystic Messages. Brooks is grateful that his dreams of being a rock star didn’t work out because this allowed him to develop a long, diverse and rewarding career in various other aspects of the music industry. Starting out as a music journalist, he began producing records and started a song demo service called Appropriate Productions – whose most frequent client was future Grammy award-winning songwriter and multiple Oscar nominee Diane Warren. He later worked in the music publishing world, heading his own firm before becoming a successful record promoter with the Dudley-Gorov Organization, Enigma Records, Hollywood Records and Trauma Records. Artists he worked with included Sonic Youth, Poison, Queen, No Doubt and Bush. Launching his own company, Ben Brooks Marketing, he has promoted everyone from Sixpence None the Richer, Kelly Clarkson and Colbie Caillat to Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars.
Day, whose great grandfather Charles E. Day owned the first music store on the West Coast (Day’s Music in Downtown Los Angeles in the 1880s), started his career playing in several Pasadena-based R&B bands, several of which had songs played on the syndicated Dr. Demento radio program. Though he has always been involved in making music, Day has spent most of his professional career as a newspaper journalist both in Pasadena and the High Desert. Currently, he is the social media advisor for a desert school district. Ironically, it was Brooks who helped him get his start with the Pasadena Star-News in the late 1970s. Day also followed Brooks as a music writer at the paper.
Mystic Messages, the duo’s first project as Brooks & Day, brings their friendship and musical collaborations full circle while they are looking ahead to making more improvisational flute/guitar music in the new age world. Literally and figuratively, it’s a long way from when they first started playing in rock bands in their early twenties. Their current musical partnership sprang from their time playing together in the Glen Gang, which also featured Scott Kirby aka Oskar Scotti, whose vinyl 45s Brooks produced in the 1980s.
“Besides the fact that Peter and I have been playing and recording together for over 30 years,” Brooks says, “I think we have reached a place in our lives, relationship, and musical ability where we have no barriers separating us from creating spiritually exalted music. Through everything we have been through in our lives, the music and the muse still remain. We hope these pieces inspire listeners’ hearts and souls the same way they did ours. If that can happen, then our Mystic Messages have truly been received!”
More information on Brooks and Day is available at their website (brooksandday.com). CDs and digital download tracks are available at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and many others. The music also can be heard (and this artist can be followed) at many major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play and more.
— JONATHAN WIDRAN