Wendell Brooks is an accomplished actor/singer/multi-instrumentalist from Houston, Texas who has performed with Mick Jagger, Jonathan Butler, Will Downing, and Melba Moore. While in rehearsals for Mick Jagger’s PRIMITIVE COOL tour, Wendell’s playing with Mick Jagger apparently made an impression upon the master musician/drummer Simon Phillips. You know, THAT Simon Phillips, of The WHO and TOTO. Several years after those rehearsals Simon called Wendell wanting to know if he’d like to play with him on some projects. As an actor, Wendell appeared on Broadway in the New York based Negro Ensemble Company’s staging of Pearl Cleage’s PUPPETPLAY in a scene opposite a young, beautiful and talented Phyllicia Rashad. Wendell’s short scene netted him great reviews from the NY theater critics, including Clive Barnes. Wendell also portrayed a compassionate vagrant in the motion picture JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.
Wendell’s musical credits are equally prodigious. His saxophone playing can be heard in a scene from Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING along with the late, acclaimed jazz artist and trumpeter Mark Ledford on the superstar reggae band Steel Pulse’s Can’t Stand The Heat. As a saxophonist, singer, keyboard player, he has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan with Will Downing, Jonathan Butler, D’atra Hicks, Toshi Kubota, and Simon Phillips. It’s safe to say that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions have heard Wendell on the recordings of others. Wendell played Alto, Tenor and Soprano Saxophones on SYMBIOSIS, ANOTHER LIFETIME, and OUT OF THE BLUE with SIMON PHILLPS. He played on I NEED MONEY BAD with John Whitehead, of McFadden and Whitehead fame. Wendell’s signature sound is easily recognizable on I’M IN LOVE (with Melba Moore), and Will Downing’s first and second albums, WILL DOWNING, and COME TOGETHER AS ONE. Wendell is also a writer, arranger and composer of all musical styles. Wendell’s instrumental skills include voice, saxophones, flute, clarinet, keyboards, acoustic piano and guitar. Wendell’s never played his Ovation acoustic guitar publicly because, “I’m still practicing,” he says. He plans to perform with it on his first full concert after the release of his CD, A WORK IN PROGRESS.
The album A WORK IN PROGRESS has proven to be aptly titled. The project Wendell began years ago is still unfinished. Wendell is working hard to get it finished and released in its entirety by June 2017.
The music industry is challenging enough for any performer to navigate through. For many independent artists, it’s as if the already shark infested waters contain piranha on steroids. All independent projects require a lot of work to succeed, and it’s also true that independents usually lack the flexibility that major label budgets provide. In going the indie route to record this album, A WORK IN PROGRESS has been no exception. For instance, Wendell also had to learn how to build computers when Hurricane Ike tore through Houston, when his computer system, with all of his music on it, got damaged. “Yeah. That was pretty horrendous,” says Wendell. “The storm had passed and I thought my computer was unscathed. Nope. Thankfully, I was able to rescue much of the material. Still, when putting back together on the new system, it was still like starting all over.”
A WORK IN PROGRESS in fact, has taught me much about life, people, and skills,” Wendell says. “The things I’m learning on this project will help me for time to come. I’m already a person who believes in persevering and always giving it my best. Overcoming obstacles to the completing of this project is ‘chipping away the dross’, if you would. That’s a good thing. It is important for me to improve every single day just to finish the album.”
Which shows you that Wendell Brooks ultimately considers himself a serious student, whether subject is music, life, spiritual matters, or people. You can usually spot him on a gig somewhere with a book, or listening to an audio recording, always learning, always doing his best to improve and get better. ”It’s important that what I present is the very best I can do”, says Wendell. “Mostly because I want people to feel good and think, when they listen to my music.”
People certainly both feel good and think when they hear Wendell Brooks, whether as a vocalist, saxophonist, flutist or on keyboards. Wendell was recently awarded MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR by THE BROTHERHOOD CONNECTIONS network, an organization that spans the country. Wendell was surprised to find out his name was even the running.
And that brings us here. It’s obvious that what drives Wendell Brooks is his personal philosophy of giving everything his all, and working on himself to be able to give more. It is also easy to see that his spiritual life is the most important part of his being. Wendell embraces his heritage as an Israelite, a descendant of the tribe of Judah, learning, through studying the scriptures, of YAHUAH his ALAHYM under YAHUSHA HA’ MASHYACH, whom the world calls Jesus Christ. His love for people is evident to all he meets and his gigs draw crowds who feel his heart through his music. Whether he’s performing as support personnel for famous artists, as a solo artist with his own group or as a solo performer with his one-man shows, Wendell Brooks is a musical force to be experienced by all.