Trip to Thailand With the Donald Harrison Band by Zaccai Curtis

I just had an amazing time in Thailand performing with the Donald Harrison Quartet "Quantum Leap Band." The people were great and the food was amazing. The hospitality was off the charts. I want to give a shout out to the students over there because they are really doing their Jazz homework. Jazz is America's Classical Music and for these young people, literally across the world in the opposite time zone, to take on such a musical dedication is an honor. I want to give a speacial shout out to Ten, Kaew, and Ant for taking care of us the whole time. They were exceptional and very professional. The sound engineers for the concert were absolutly amazing. To all the musicians in the competition, congratulations... we didn't have enough time to write what we wanted to you in the notes(they would know what I mean) but I wanted to thank you for carrying the Jazz torch and you all were amazing.

 I appreciate your response to the show and supporting our music... we were so energized by you all! Can't wait till the next time we come out there. Keep in touch with us and let us know if you come to the states. - Peace

Thanks for the pictures too! 

Also a special shout out to Tae, the builder of the "Miraculous Tank Drum" which sounds AMAZING! pick one up if you can, you won't be disappointed. I'll be working on my skills with the drum for the next few months before I put up a video.... 

Healing From a Hand Injury by Zaccai Curtis

Im looking forward to my performance with CBQ on Tuesday at the Time Warner Center, (6pm) for those that want to come through, but I am still healing from a hand injury that I aquired from playing on pianos with no monitors... I've heard of pianist that don't play unless they have a monitor and I'm about to sign up to that group! It's partly my fault because I have been pushing my limits with a strengthening exercise. Those are usually great to do but I didn't realize that maybe I shouldn't do it right before my hit.... for a few hours on a piano where I can't hear myself... Lol... Unfortunately I wasn't aware enough to not try and compensate and for those that don't know about this, when you play, your pain sensitivities are lowered greatly. After you play, the pain sets in and damn... The next morning was no joke! My hand is about painless now but I have a couple more days off before my hit and I'm looking forward to getting back on the piano! 

Drummers... by Zaccai Curtis

I Just came back from playing with one of my favorite drummers of all time, Cindy Blackman-Santana, and I can't stop thinking of all of rhythmic cadences and structures developed on stage.  Also how the harmony fits right on top... I'm so blessed to have this opportunity and not only share the bandstand with Cindy but with another great, Ralph Peterson. I learned how to play trio with Ralph and it easily changed my approach to the piano and to the art of the trio. To play trio with someone of his caliber in 2004 is an experience that I couldn't be thankful enough for. 

I've always strived to connect musically with the drummer... Thinking in rhythmic combinations and hemiolas all the time. Playing with ideas of tension and release in my comping and soloing. Every time I get on the stage with great drummers I take a bit of knowledge away with me... new ideas for new compositions.

I play differently with each and every drummer i perform with. As a pianist, I am a slave to their language. The more language they have, the more free I feel as a trio mate. I try and pay attention to the type of language they use so that we can make the band breath and speak. It's important that the drummer and bassists lock together because if they don't, these intricate counter rhythms won't connect. They must be precise. I think it's obvious that I tend to focus on my accompaniment much more then my improv.

Lining up with the drums while behind a great soloist is an amazing thing. But when you can build tension and present counter rhythms before the cadence thats something that isn't as easy as it sounds. It seems to depend on the a commonality in and with language...

If I could connect with every drummer on the scene today that would be my musical dream... meanwhile the bass plays just as an important role as the piano in creating this but both piano and bass are attached to the drums. I love to keep it interesting within the trio, not necessarily dropping a cadence sometimes and also releasing the tension in places that aren't usual. There is an art to bringing drawing out the tension and building energy for the soloist to feed on but it all depends on the drummer. 

I have always believed that a band can only be as good as it's drummer. All Black American Music seems to follow that rule.

Shout out to all the amazing drummers and special shout out to Richie Barshay and Luques Curtis... the drummer and bassist I grew up playing with... there's always a special connection and musical bond with the people that you develop with. 

Triangular III Ralph Peterson (Onyx-Truth Revolution) Russ Musto (REVIEW) by Zaccai Curtis

Drummer-led piano trio dates are uncommon entries within the jazz discography, differing from sessions under the leadership of pianists and bassists. Unshackled from the restrictive role of sideman, the drummer-leader is more apt to utilize the full dynamic range of his instrument, becoming more of a creative voice and less a metronomic timekeeper. Master drummer Ralph Peterson excels in the rarefied atmosphere of his own trio on Triangular III. He powers a group completed by pianist zaccai Curtis and bassist Luques Curtis with polyrhythmic intensity, invigorating their spirited playing throughout this live set recorded at New Haven’s Firehouse 12.

Opener “Uranus”, the first of three compositions by pianist Walter Davis, Jr., is a joyous romp showcasing the alternately fluid and percussive piano of zaccai Curtis. A selection from the Jazz Messenger repertory, it features a climactic Peterson solo where he exhibits his command of the Art Blakey rhythmic vocabulary. Following a funky drum set-up, Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice” swings straightahead, then shifts gears into an AfroCuban mode, which includes a lyrical bass solo. (READ MORE)

Just Found This Version of 'The Onge' On YouTube by Zaccai Curtis

Check out what this Berklee ensemble did with "The Onge" from 'Completion of Proof' arr. by Mike Tomasiak

They sound great and I like the harmonies they added as well! I originally wrote this for the Ralph Peterson Trio and later added horns but it never sounded just right without Ralph on drums. So when we recorded it I felt the sound was solidified in history. A very challenging head weaving the hemiola in the bass drums with shot horn lines and bursts and some repeating odd meter ideas lol… not to mention the 10 bar minor blues form to solo on. It takes a lot of concentration to pull the whole arrangement together so great work guys! 

I Will No Longer Post Directly To Facebook by Zaccai Curtis

Why would you keep posting to a site that uses your content to gain a monopoly over yourself and your family? It's a form of self enslavement. And looking at the way the majority of people act in this country(or lack of action) it seems that you really like enslavement…lol.

Why would you create a cyber personality that only exists in the minds of the people that see it? ...because you know it does not exist. A depressed person posting happy thoughts or an emotionally confused person posting political thoughts or a coward posting threatening thoughts does not make make you who you want to be. It kind of exposes your need for attention and lack of affection while young… I think… lol… I don't know but can I tell you one thing for sure… Facebook knows the reasons you post the way they do...

Why do you crave approval of other cyber personalities? You need your fix of endorphins that are released when satisfied by the "approval" of those… who do not exist…

Why support an engine that does not give back? Instead they perform social experiments on you, submit your information to secret government agencies so they can add you to a no fly list with more then a million terrorists on it :/ …i mean… a million? (…does anyone else think this is stupid? oh yeah… i'll never know because when I post that question to Facebook the algorithms make sure no one sees it.) An engine that sell your information to the highest corporate bidder, censors what they interpret as offensive (because we are all their children…), create algorithms that limit your ability to reach many people so that you will buy "ad space." 

Instead I will be posting to my own blog site and then posting that page to Facebook. 

I suggest you do the same and stop posting personal pictures like your kids and shit on there(or anywhere). If something happens to you where do you think the news goes to get all your personal info and pictures to post up everywhere? …yeah Facebook…. I don't have a choice in much of my pictures because they are taken all the time when I perform etc… but for you that don't have a public life… just keep your info to yourself. Nobody really cares anyway, they just want you to "like" their fake cyber life so they are proactive in "liking" yours…lol! It's true… Yeah… don't take it too personally if I like your post… I pretty much like everything…. 

AND FINALLY…. Stop taking Facebook so serious… It's not… It started as a place to "blog" and network and became this place where the majority tries to keep each other in the same line of thought. Now you think you know who doesn't think in the same direction as the fake cyber world that is governed by an algorithm to slant your view of the world….whew!!! The fact is… you really don't know shit. Even if you know a person personally…. you don't know shit. You can't read inside the mind of anyone, your kids, fathers, mothers… you don't know everything they've done in their lives, their true motivations and you don't know their intentions.

Not  even mine even though I gave you a bunch of dumb reasons for me not posting directly to Facebook anymore…. (evil smily face)

Criticizing someones music is like criticizing how someone raises their kids… by Zaccai Curtis

Criticizing someones music is like criticizing how someone raises their kids… you have to know the intention of the recording to do this. You cannot come to a sound conclusion if you do not know the facts and, by a choice of their own, reviewers are not privy to that information… especially now. When an incredible musician puts out a recording, sacrifices the mix of the album to spend the money in other areas, you wouldn't know the details of that unless you ask. Sadly, critics are very discredited in jazz. Equally disappointing is the many musicians that believe them(critics) to be a "necessary evil" because of their ability to "make or break" an album. Sometimes musicians think it's the only way to get your CD publicized for a low budget project. The discredit comes in because critics have no connection with the musicians. They treat them like animals in a zoo…. or the way they write about indigenous people in Encyclopedias. No research, time in the field, conversations or phone calls, no questions, and no idea on the process to create a project (especially when it comes to independent music.) Don't take my word for it… you only have to ask ANY jazz musician about what I said... Do some research because we do want you involved, but not if you are ignorant about the subject you are writing about… call up the artist and find out whats up and I guarantee your "review" will be respected. Until then, your reviews will never be taken seriously by the jazz community and definitely by me. - Zaccai Curtis

(REVIEW) Inventions and Dimensions (1963)

Five tunes, all by Hancock, played by an unusual quartet: Hancock, Paul Chambers on bass, and both Willie Bobo and Osvaldo "Chihuahua" Martínez on Latin percussion. This forshadows the preoccupation with rhythm that dominates his fusion work, but that's about all I can say for it. Nearly all the music was made up on the spot - the bossa nova-y "Mimosa" did have a chord structure preplanned - and instead of being an adventurous, spirited group exploration, it just sounds scattershot and disorganized. Hancock comes up with some startling runs ("A Jump Ahead"), but not many; the percussionists either stay way in the background or solo aimlessly; and Chambers seems lost, repeating simple figures endlessly ("Succotash"). "Triangle" is the closest thing to traditional jazz here, and gets the best performances all around - otherwise, there's nothing much of lasting value. (DBW) warr.org

This is why I'm looking for musicians to advocate for each others music… Truth Revolution Recording Collective is about to change all that…. Russ Musto, thanks for doing this… you started a powerful vibration… and thanks to all of you who have already been on to and doing this!

Russ Musto’s liner notes for “Completion of Proof” by Zaccai Curtis

Music with a powerful message is the hallmark of the sound of the Curtis Brothers band. It is a sound that is deeply rooted in tradition, yet forward looking in its aim. Completion Of Proof unwinds from the music Zaccai and Luques heard in their youth, first growing up in a household rich in AfroAmerican and Latino culture and later in their musical studies at The Artists Collective, the Hartford, Connecticut interdisciplinary arts and cultural organization founded by jazz master Jackie McLean and his wife Dollie. The early lessons learned at home and in the Collective have ineradicably informed the art of the brothers – not just musically, but also philosophically – ever since.

It is no coincidence that the compositions on Completion Of Proof, created as acknowledgment to the music the brothers heard growing up, bear a strong sonic semblance to the sound of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. From Jackie McLean on, many of the young musicians’ mentors were alumni of the esteemed band. Three of those artists – Ralph Peterson, Donald Harrison and Brian Lynch – join the two brothers to fill out the quintet that is heard on the date’s opening three tracks. It was Peterson, the powerful drummer that Blakey chose to be his second in the Jazz Messenger Big Band, who first introduced Luques and Zaccai to a wider audience, as rhythm section mates in his Boston based band, while the two attended Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory.

Donald Harrison and Brian Lynch, well known for their Messenger tenures, have both utilized the talents of the brothers in various groups under their individual leadership, the saxophonist and trumpeter’s compelling command of their instruments making a mark on the pianist and bassist’s abilities to contribute their own fire when working within the incendiary atmosphere of an intensely creative musical environment. It is the combined sound of Lynch and Harrison in the front line and Peterson’s relentlessly swinging drumming behind them that give the Curtis Brothers’ efforts here the stamp of authenticity that many a Messenger homage lack.

On the album’s centerpiece – “The Manifest Destiny Suite” – Zaccai and Luques are joined by two other important figures in their musical backgrounds. Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, like the brothers, is a native of Connecticut and an alumnus of the Artists Collective, where he helped mentor the youths during their formative years. Altoist Joe Ford has shared the bandstand with the pianist and bassist when they have been called upon to stand in for Larry Willis and Andy Gonzalez, respectively, with Jerry Gonzalez and The Fort Apache Band. The ability of the brothers to hold their own with the iconic group that epitomizes the innovative synthesis of jazz and Latin musics, a true testament of their talents in the field, is further testified to by their playing on the three movements of the suite where they are joined by master percussionists Pedro Martinez and Rogério Boccato.

Harrison and Lynch (with regular Curtis Brothers conguero Reinaldo De Jesus joining the quintet on “Sol Within”) return for the date’s final two tracks, to complete a truly rewarding musical journey. All of the music clearly speaks for itself with pride and fire, but the words written by composer Zaccai Curtis that accompany these notes elucidate on a philosophy where music plays an important role in informing a general public about its circumstances and the necessity to discover the truth and act for justice.
Russ Musto
New York City Jazz Record

What Is Jazz by Zaccai Curtis

WHAT JAZZ IS…

JAZZ IS WHERE A HUMAN CAN BE A HIGH SPIRIT

JAZZ KNOWS THE FUTURE AND IS THE PAST

JAZZ IS CREATED BY THE INNER TRUTH

ITS AN ENEMY OF REGULATION

JAZZ HATES ITS NAME

JAZZ HATES CONTROL

JAZZ REJECTS CONFORMITY IN SOCIETY

JAZZ WANTS TO BE FREE…BUT

ONCE FREE,

WILL CEASE TO BE “JAZZ”

JAZZ WILL ALWAYS BE THE UNDERDOG

JAZZ…

WILL ALWAYS BE HATED BY THE STATE COMPLEX

JAZZ AWAKENS THE MIND

JAZZ IS AWARENESS

JAZZ IS REVOLUTIONARY ALL BY ITSELF

IT SWINGS LIKE AFRICA

AND BEHAVES LIKE LOVE

THE TRUTH ABOUT US

OUR ORIGINS AND OUR FUTURE

LIE IN THE VERY THING WE ARE MADE OF…

VIBRATIONS!

 

“IF YOU HAVE TO ASK WHAT JAZZ IS, YOULL NEVER KNOW”

- LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Experience with Ninety Miles at the Monterey Jazz Festival by Zaccai Curtis

Love performing with 90 miles! Had a great time hitting with them this past winter at Monterey Jazz Festival withNicholas Payton – Trumpet, Henry Cole – Drums, Mauricio Herrera – Congas, Bata, Ricky Gonzalez – Bass andDavid Sanchez – Tenor. Usually Stefon Harris(vibes) performs with the group but he was witnessing the birth of the new edition to his family! The music was slamming and it was awesome to play one of NP’s tune actually with him.

I remember Clint Eastwood being there, watching Jack Dejonette perform right before us. I wanted to take a picture with him but he seemed like he just wanted a picture with Jack then he took off. These super stars really know how to let you know they don’t want to be bothered with their body language.

Anyway check out the killer CD, Nintey Miles (Christian Scott on trumpet instead of N.P.)

Video of my self with Ninety Miles at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Photo Credit to Tom Ehrlich