Cedric Im Brooks & The Light of Saba | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Cedric Im Brooks & The Light of Saba

Cedric Im Brooks & The Light of Saba
Honest Jon's Records

Down an unmarked, cobblestone side street and duck through a short wood-framed doorway. Descend flight of stairs; knock three times while whispering the Aramaic word on back of a card. Make no false move, think before you leap.

Inside, inhale deep of the incense and fresh collie, place needle in groove. Uninitiated beware the full scheme of Cedric Im Brooks, dub prophet and rhythm activist; graduate of Kingston's famed Alpha Boys School; Skatalite friend and contemporary; one-time Philadelphian, forever I-thiopian. Brooks cooks magic potions of music, seeking the Divine link between Sun Ra, Fela Kuti and reggae. Brooks' magic comes in the shape of long-form Tai Chi dubs, funky Kingston saxophone workouts and outstretching large-scale-band rhythmic explorations, all within an Afrocentric religiosity that builds Brooks' music into something even deeper than reggae -- into the cult of The Light of Saba.

First task for initiation: Dissect theologically the guitar and Nyabinghi-drum rhythms making "Sabasi" intoxicating, uplifting, all consuming. Meditate deeply on the mass chanting of "Satta Massa Gana" and "Free Up Black Man"; concentrate on Mutabaruka's guest-vocal prowess on "Outcry." New visitors to the house may find their heads spinning -- this is normal and good. For pre-Saba practice, visit the houses of Yabby You and King Tubby (for consciousness expansion), and those of King Sunny Ade and Hugh Masekela (for historical background to "Africa" and others).

The Light of Saba is not a culture to be taken lightly, nor one to be rushed into. But follow the true path and its rewards shall be rich.

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