Music reflects the human spirit - it is a core element of our lives, a constant source of inspiration for most and the lifeblood of one Magic Brook, musical journeyman, roving guitarist and occasional activist. The Bay Area musician defies labels and genres with his soulful acoustic guitar work and unique blend of sounds. Brook’s fluid two-hand guitar technique, percussive use of the instrument and blending of styles enables him to create his own intriguing brand of powerful acoustic music, merging rhythm and melody to create truly magical sounds on the acoustic guitar.
Magic Brook is one of those artists whose music transcends traditional terminology. He consciously crosses from one interconnected genre to the next, utilizing grooves, structure and improvisation in all their fundamental glories as he lets the music lead him wherever it ventures. This gratifying combination of energies and exploration is on full display on Brook’s fine, new collection of finger-style solo acoustic guitar, The Source - Two Hands, One Guitar (Melusine Records), which has already charted in the top 15 on the New Age/Ambient/World Radio Charts.
“I'm a synesthete,” Brook relates, “aural experience is cross-wired to touch sensation in my body so I get sensory experience from music that is undeniable, physical and involuntary.”
That tuned-in sensitivity translates into a more enhanced acoustic sound for Brook as he injects infectious rhythms into undulating melodic and harmonic progressions. The Source is Brook’s third solo album, and is steeped in finger and slap-style acoustic guitar work that is alternative yet comfortably familiar, experimental yet sophisticated. Brook utilizes such techniques as percussive slapping, tap guitar and the split, two-hand approach, all of which offers the listener an immediate diversity for an album of solo acoustic guitar.
With a background in blues, jazz and roots music, as well as music from all over the globe - especially the rhythms of the African Diaspora - Brook was essentially raised on world music as opposed to the more limiting constraints of western pop music. Early on, Brook played with many talented jazz and blues musicians and soon found himself literally playing with rock and roll legends, performing a stint with Bo Diddley and also backing up Chuck Berry in one of Berry’s trademark pickup bands he uses as he goes from town to town, something Brook himself has emulated. “Keeping a band together is very difficult,” says Brook. “I use pick-up bands on the road a lot - learned that from Chuck Berry!”
Having such a wide-ranging and diverse pallet, Brook has been able to capture this open-minded approach in his music with each new recording. The Source is playful and adventurous, Brook’s skillful playing continually gives the listener variety and hooks to latch onto - the endearing “Fetch!,” with its strong rhythm, gives way to dense pieces like “Soul Art Dance,” which recalls the virtuosic guitar work of Michael Hedges or Alex De Grassi. Brook then delves deeply into wide dreamscapes on such pieces as “Andalusian Fantasy” and the 14-minute “The Awakening.” Brook’s first album, The Great Blues Sea, from 2004 and the follow-up, Love Like A Stream (released in 2005) both offer a similar variety of textures and rhythms from introspective love songs to swampy acoustic blues like the number, “Summerland.”
“Music is an expression of the essential divine nature of the universe,” Brook says. “I believe that divinity is manifest in the physical world, that the physical is divine and I can see this divinity in all of creation.”
As his fans well know, Brook - who is also known to cross lines to join anti-nuclear and anti-war demonstrations - performs with the profound vigor of genuine and unlimited artistic exploration, a key element to true improvisation. It’s a spiritually-enhanced, open-ended approach all too absent from the mainstream.
“There is a river of music below human consciousness,” he says. “This is the divine music. When I can open myself deeply and clearly enough, I am simply the channel. This is easier to say than to do, but that is the goal - to get out of the way of the music coming through.”
Magic Brook is a musical gypsy with the experience and intuition to get of out of the way so his music can shine through for it is as honest and soulful as the earth itself and his journey continues as he travels the world ever-seeking that ever-elusive concept known as The Source.
For intimate settings and when showcasing his acoustic guitar material, Brook often appears as a solo.
Brook works with varied accompaniment depending upon the venue and the need.
He also works with a 3-5 piece band, utilizing bass, Mark Petrella, backup singer, Cypress and hand percussion, Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney.
But, if a bigger sound is needed, he can add drums, Joyce Baker, keyboards, Rich Hubbard or horn (Bruce Unsworth, among others) as needed.
Brook plays with some of the finest instrumentalists in the San Francisco Bay Area on an as needed basis, or he can work with local musicians to reduce expenses.
All of Brook's material is charted for additional musicians.
11/08/2008 "The Source". Acoustic guitar featuring percussive and other two handed techniques.
7/18/05 "Love Like a Stream" Brook's live progressive folk collection recorded in the Fall of 2004.
3/18/04 "The Great Blues Sea". Brook's first solo album. Branches that stem from the roots of the blues.
Witch's Brew, Reclaiming
- vocal, guitar
Circle Round, Anne Hill
Honky Tonk Communists, Honky Tonk Communists
- Guitars, mandolin
From Christopher To Castro, Doug Stevens and the Outband
- Guitar, composition
Joyce Baker Group, Featuring Opie Bellas, Joyce Baker Group
Second Chants, Reclaiming
- Co-producer, guitars, bass, vocals, composition, arranging
Let It Begin Now, Reclaiming
- Co-producer, guitars, bass, arranging
Cat on a Fence, Jess Grant
- lead guitar, slide guitar
Original Folk, Collection, Pat Wynne, Folkways Label
Please see www.magicbrook.com/recordings.htm for a more complete discography
Soul Art Dance
The Awakening, Part I
Fred Migliori Interview/CD Companion
Earth Rhythms Live
Gin 'N Honey
Moon Circle (live)
FAME Review: Mark S. Tucker
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The Source Magic Brook Available from CD Baby. A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Mus...The Source
Available from CD Baby.
A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
As the cover infers in its Two Hands' One Guitar byline, this is solo fingerpicking - however, not of the norm, not oriented around 3-minute bases but rather very pleasing extensions and cerebral fantasias in melody extension and improv. I've included the times in the song listings below so the reader can appreciate just how far things go. In The Source, though the tone tends to a Hedges / DeGrassi / post-New Agey vibe, there's quite a decent infusion of old Bill Connors and of what John Abercrombie started doing in his Characters release (one of the best efforts he's ever published), not to mention a literate accounting of classical airs modernized.
Magic Brook has paid a lot of attention to what he's crafting, though the ambience is often of an easy and seemingly unaffected approach. Thus, the CD works in a marvelously soporific or balmily energetic mood, a shifting background haze of chamber sensibilities and instrumental environments, or as a disc to be more closely listened to. Your choice. The length of each cut opens the door to a number of playing techniques and thematic pursuits, but the atmosphere is of a stone veranda at Big Sur on a sunny afternoon in summer with a couple of bottles of beaujolais and serious music connoisseurs arrayed in wicker peacock chairs.
I've mentioned the CandyRat label quite a bit lately, and Magic Brook skates the edge of it clearly, oft veering more to classically infused jazz but very steeped in the direction modern acoustic guitar has been taking, prizing sophistication but not trickery or grandstanding. Technique and elasticity are the driving forces, elegance the mainline, and subtlety the reward for the dialed-in listener.
* Fetch! (The) (4:50)
* Stony Creek (7:59)
* Soul Art Dance (6:43)
* Sweet Sigh (2:51)
* Andalusian Fantasy (7:02)
* The Sun and the Clouds at Play (7:59)
* The Awakening (14:09)
All songs written by Magic Brook.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
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You can tell that guitarist Magic Brook earned his chops on the exciting jazz and well-trodden R & B...You can tell that guitarist Magic Brook earned his chops on the exciting jazz and well-trodden R & B circuit. His new album The Source has that high-energy electric feel of improvisations, but with the precise discipline of a very experience musician. Everything on the album is sharp and edgy and the melodies carry well. When I listened to the album I was reminded of Steven Stills or Richie Havens. Yeah, I go back a long way.
Brook has been around for a while and has played with some notable stars including Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. Yeah, he goes back a long way, too. His style isn't limited to R & B and jazz. He glides across the genre lines with not only folk, funk and flamenco in his repertoire, but also rock and country. And as if he wasn't busy enough with his music, he is also a social activist taking on the very worthy causes of peace and the environment.
Fetch! (the) opens the album with a punchy beat and sprightly fingerstyle picking. My dictionary has ten connotations for fetch, but the one that describes this song the best is "to please somebody" because this tune is certainly pleasing to the ear. It is a memorable and fun song.
My favorite on the album is called Stony Creek. The movement is swift and sure on this bright tune. It took more than a few bars to get to the theme, but once you do, the sound is a testament to the indomitable spirit of man. It is a journey and a reward.
Magic adds a lot from his bass strings, puts in surprising harmonics and he likes to pop his guitar body for rhythm. A pop starts out the song Soul Art Dance. This is music for the sake of living. It contains high energy with a lot of Spanish guitar riffs and string popping. The first time I heard this I pictured Snoopy dancing around gleefully.
Sweet Sigh is another memorable tune on The Source. It takes on a waltz-like tempo and I pictured beautiful young girls in long summer dresses swaying to the music. I saw the touch of two lovers as the last dance of the evening played and the starlight that was reflected in their eyes. There could be no better ending to the night.
Andalusian Fantasy is a tune fresh from a Segovian daydream. From biblical times to the present, southern Spain has always been fertile ground for poets and conquerors. The cities of Seville, Cordoba and up along the coast from Granada have been in the history books for thousands of years providing it with rich chronicles of adventure, learning and love. Brook musically paints a sunny picture of splashing waves, chalk-colored villas and intimate courtyards. It only remains for us to await the twilight to pour the sangria and to lose ourselves in the music.
I have to admit, this is my first encounter with Magic Brook's music, but it won't be the last. If there is one thing I like it is music with personality and this album has it in spades. For a refreshing sound of music I recommend Magic Brook and his album, The Source, EP.
Rating: Very Good Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/8/2008
Your Daily Lick: Magic Brook
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The Source: Two Hands, One Guitar (Melusine Records) February 2, 2009 True to his album title,...The Source: Two Hands, One Guitar (Melusine Records)
February 2, 2009
True to his album title, Oakland's Magic Brook wrings a full range of sound from his acoustic six-string without turning to overdubs or accompaniment for melody, harmony, rhythm, or percussion. Through technical virtuosity and variable tunings, Brook proves himself unbound by genre and communicative with the listener both emotionally and intellectually. — Nate Seltenrich
The Source Target Magazine
"The guitar playing is phenominal and quite original" - Darryl Salach
Magic Brook "The Source"
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Bay Area guitarist Magic Brook is devoted to exploring the guitar’s extended capabilities. His album...Bay Area guitarist Magic Brook is devoted to exploring the guitar’s extended capabilities. His album “The Source” could be seen as an examination of the source of the guitar’s character and sound. Brook’s physical way of interacting with the guitar as well as his basis in jazz and funk make for an attention-getting, rhythmical style. Because the percussive use of his instrument may be mistaken for overdubbed percussion, the album’s liner notes make sure to state, “this recording has no overdubbed tracks. It was recorded ‘two hands, one guitar,’ direct to digital.” Brook’s music makes an improvisational impression while retaining a sense of direction and motivation. This solo guitar album demonstrates his unique approach to the instrument and the strength of purpose and preparation required to present his music so well. This strong showing by an intriguing guitarist won’t fail to convince most listeners.
The Source Chattanooga, TN
"I am spinning Magic Brook. Really good music!"- Mark Caldwell
The Source, Rochester, NY
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"I really like Magic Brook. I intend to give it a little push at the music meeting" -Krista Wentwort..."I really like Magic Brook. I intend to give it a little push at the music meeting" -Krista Wentworth
The Source, Atlantic City NJ
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"I got the new Magic Brook:The Source and will be playing it on my show. I play a lot of guitar and... "I got the new Magic Brook:The Source and will be playing it on my show. I play a lot of guitar and like this one very much"- Carla Van Dyke
The Source, Nassau-Suffolk, NY
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I can see this fitting into a few shows so hopefully it will fulfill its potential that I think it h...I can see this fitting into a few shows so hopefully it will fulfill its potential that I think it has"- Keri Fico
Love Like a Stream
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Guitarist-singer-songwriter Brook follows 2004’s The Great Blues Sea with a catchy live album record...Guitarist-singer-songwriter Brook follows 2004’s The Great Blues Sea with a catchy live album recorded at various Bay Area clubs.
Like his first CD, this recording is held together by Brook's versatile and accomplished guitar playing, which runs a gamut from blues to jazz to folk. The live recording enhances the presence of the playing and singing, which is by turns reflective, relaxing, and stirring.
“His Mystery” catches the reflective side of the CD, with Spanish-tinged fingerpicking lacing a smoky backdrop for the lyrics:
Darkness, the sound of the unknown
He calls us, His mystery unfolds
His riddles; a fire deep inside
Rekindles memories of night
Forest and antler we run with the deer
Fleet as the roebuck, his breath draws us near
“Moon Circle” typifies the jazz-based sound of the CD, with dense layers of chords evoking moonlight. The moody guitar solo, accompanied only by a bass guitar, is especially rich.
The album wouldn't be complete without a bottleneck-blues rendition of "The Great Blues Sea” followed by a similarly blues-based “Earth Circles.”
The CD ends with a short jazz-based version of “My Soul Says So.” The complex guitar harmonies give a new dimension to this Witchcamp favorite. I would have liked a longer version of this little gem.
For listeners wanting a roots-ier feel to their Pagan music, this CD and its predecessor are a great place to start.
Love Like a Stream is available at www.magicbrook.com. Reviewed by Bill Dewey.
Summer 2OO5 * RECLAIMING QUARTERLY 15
The Great Blues Sea
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This is Pagan music in the broadest and best sense -- earthy folk-blues from the heart. It's a testi...This is Pagan music in the broadest and best sense -- earthy folk-blues from the heart. It's a testimony to The richness of this CD that you find, seamlessly interwoven the well-crafted original songs, a cover of Elmore James' classic "Dust My Broom". Earth-based blues, indeed!
180 minutes of original material, including vocals and solo guitar pieces. Or, up to 240 minutes of jazz and groove music. Brook also sings some cover material, material that he makes uniquely his own.
The following is a list of originals and covers that Brook sings. Most of the originals and some covers can be found at
His instrumental book is also extensive. Brook can play a solo jazz gig for 2-3 hours without stopping.
12 Long Years
Ain't Nobody's Business
Ain't Times Hard (Hard Times)
Angel From Montomery
Before You Accuse Me
Drop the Big One Now
Dust My Broom
Everything Is Connected
Gin 'N Honey
God Soul Waltz
Great Blues Sea
I Don't Know
If I Get Lucky
It All Comes Around
May The Long Time Sun Shine
My Soul Says So
Only Time To Love
Peace is a Shining Jewel
Piece of Wood
Rollin' 'n Tumblin'
The Dead Speak
the lightning strikes
When Love Calls
Woke Up This Morning
There are no upcoming dates at this time.