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Reggae Great Cedric Brooks Dead at 70

Cedric”IM” Brooks, the influential Jamaican saxophonist who fused music and spirituality, died Friday in New York.

Brooks had been in a coma-like state since February 2010, and died from cardiac arrest at New York Hospital in Queens.

He was 70 years old.

His sister Paulette Keise told the Jamaica Observer that Brooks had been unable to speak for the last three years.

His communication was restricted to nodding his head or by eye movement.

Like many Jamaican horn players, Brooks received his musical training at the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston.

One of his first major recordings was for Burning Spear’s debut album for Studio One.

Along with another Alpha alumnus, trumpeter David Madden, Brooks had two hit songs in the instrumentals, Money Maker and Mystic Mood.

In the 1970s, he collaborated with Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and led his own band, Light of Saba.

His time with those bands reflected Brooks’ deep spirituality and Afrocentric beliefs.

“Cedric came up during the dying days of the horn-driven band, so he had to find a new expression. The result was, he cameĀ up with a sound that was singular,” said Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum.

At the time that he became ill Brooks was touring with pioneer ska band, The Skatalites.

Brooks is survived by seven children and four sisters.

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