“There is a beacon of light emanating from New York City these days, that clearly illustrates this approach and subsequent innovative results, in the person(s), of the Curtis Brothers, bassist Luques, and pianist Zaccai. The brothers have recently released a fabulous quartet album, Syzygy on that label that brings to light their ability to combine their roots in bebop, hard bop, and latin, without a notion of being a hybrid, or fusion form. Indeed, it is spoken in one jazz commonality, one inventive dialect that is whole in it self.” Paul Rauch, ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Earlier this year Truth Revolution Recording Collective and the Curtis Brothers (Zaccai and Luques) released SYZYGY (an astronomical term that represents the alignment of three celestial objects) with a minimum of fanfare. Apart from a few glowing reviews the project failed to get the airplay or the attention it rightfully deserves.
For me, Syzygy is the equivalent of the Curtis Brother’s “unplugged.” It’s not genre-defying, nor does it seek to break new ground. Rather, it’s a “clear communicative statement of their personal musical heritage …” And the next best thing to experiencing the Curtis Brothers Quartet, live.
Repertoire-wise, “the Zaccai composition, “SYZYGY” is the sole original track on the album,” says Luques, “The rest, are standard’s and songs we love to play and tunes that we picked up on the road.”
Joined by Richie Barshay on drumset, and Reinaldo De Jesus on percussion, the brothers navigate bebop, boogaloo, urban, bolero, bomba, rumba and encompasses Bud Powell (“Hallucinations”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Bebop”), Horace Silver (“Quicksilver”), Wayne Shorter (“Yes And No”), Charlie Palmieri (“Start the World”) and Mongo Santamaria (“Afro Blue”), R&B and Tin Pan Alley.
“It’s a great listen, swinging throughout with a focus on the groove and an obvious rapport among the musicians … just great music from great musicians making it sound much easier than it is,” says Ben Gray, Staff Writer for Nextbop.com.
The Curtis Brothers have yet to create, what one might call, a “mainstream” recording and Syzygy is no different. On the one hand it contains all the elements of the classic jazz language. On the other, the sound and the spirit place it in a category all its own.
“I think our ability to combine different sounds into our own thing—blessed by the elders, you could say—is unique,” says Luques. “Truth Revolution means being a free mind, doing something musically or spiritually positive. That’s our goal.”
Deeply rooted in tradition, forward looking in its aim, understated yet powerful, Syzygy marks another step in the evolution of the Curtis Brothers.
Afro Blue (Mongo Santamaria), Hallucinations (Bud Powell), Bebop (Dizzy Gillespie), Betcha By Golly Wow (Linda Creed/ Thom Bell), Yes or No (Wayne Shorter), Syzygy (Zaccai Curtis) Truth Revolution Publishing, Start The World I Want To Get On (Charlie Palmieri), All of You (Cole Porter), Hi-Heel Sneakers (Tommy Tucker), What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye/ Al Cleveland/ Renaldo Benson), Cheer Up Charlie (Anthony Newley/ Leslie Bricusse), Quicksilver (Horace Silver).
Zaccai Curtis – Piano/ Rhodes
Luques Curtis – Bass
Richie Barshay – Drums
Reinaldo De Jesus – Congas
Blood, Spirit, Land, Water, Freedom (TRR, 2009)
Completion of Proof (TRR,2012)
Insight, A Genesis (TRR, 2007)
LUQUES CURTIS, BASSIST RISING: https://jazzdelapena.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=8259&action=edit
SOURCES: ALL ABOUT JAZZ, DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE, TRR WEBSITE.
TRR COLLECTIVE: http://truthrevolutionrecords.com