A Builder of Culture
Baritone Saxophonist Melanie Howell Brooks
Melanie Howell Brooks
Photo Credit: Ray Drueke 2019
Melanie Howell Brooks is a very curious person. She is also driven to excellence in everything she does; composition, performance, advocating for STEAM education, software engineering, gardening and motherhood. What isn’t there to talk about! Enjoy this weeks episode.
Born in Hartland, Wisconsin, Melanie Howell-Brooks currently lives in Canton, MA and performs throughout the New England area. Educated at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory which brought this midwestern native to our shores.
We spoke at length about her main voice of baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, two instruments we find choice and not brought to the spotlight enough.
Mrs. Brooks is an active musician in the Boston area and is a member of the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, as well as smaller permutations of that group – Oddsong and the Jazz Composers Alliance Saxophone Quartet. She also performs with Mehmet Ali Sanlikol’s large jazz ensemble, Whatsnext?, the John Allmark Orchestra, and has formed her own group, The Phoenix Fire Collective. Other performance groups include appearances with the BT/ALC Big Band, as well as the Fernando Huergo Big Band. She has been a member of the Beantown Swing Orchestra since its inception in 2006, though currently in more of a mentorship role for other players.
Other more recent notable performances include recording with David Liebman under the direction of Ken Schaphorst with Mr. Sanlikol’s band, Whatsnext? as well as a Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra performance with special guests, Jerry Bergonzi, Marshall Gilkes, and Lewis Porter. She has also played in the backing bands for The Temptations/Four Tops as well as with Johnny Mathis, performed with Symphony New Hampshire, and has been a pit orchestra musician with the North Shore Music Theatre. She has also performed and toured with Whatsnext? on baritone sax and bass clarinet performing alongside David Liebman and Tiger Okoshi. Mrs. Brooks toured Turkey and Cyprus and played at the Istanbul Jazz Festival in 2017 along with Mr. Okoshi and Whatsnext?. In 2016 she had the honor of performing with Aretha Franklin in her band when she came to Boston. That year she also celebrated the life of David Bowie with a concert led by Russ Gershon of the Either/Orchestra on baritone sax, flute, and bass clarinet performing all of his last recording, Blackstar.
Melanie in her own words But more than that, I’m also a software engineer, someone who loves to make stuff, and a huge proponent of STEAM in schools, given my background in music education, engineering, and the love of putting things together.
I’m also a polyglot – I’ve been studying Japanese for over 20 years now, though still consider myself only an Intermediate level speaker, but I also picked up Turkish – enough to use while on tour in Turkey to chat with locals.
We hope you enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with musician and friend Melanie Howell Brooks.
*Photo Courtesy of Melanie Howell Brooks
Below: Jazz Composers Alliance, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol’s Whatsnext?
SMGs 'Are We Here Yet?' Western Education
This week: Eddie Palmieri
Host Joan Watson Jones has a spirited conversation with Latin Jazz Legend Eddie Palmieri.
In Part 2 of this feature Eddie tells us about the many musicians he has collaborated with through the years to make his music not just Latin and not just Jazz but his own brand and style. He also shares stories about his performances across the globe.
Learn more about Eddie Palmieri www.palmierimusic.com
Welcome to the home of SMG’s ‘Are We Here Yet?’ Podcast. We seek to produce vibrant storytelling from the entrepreneurs, creative-class warriors and dynamic citizens that collectively tell the story of modern-day America.
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