The Curtis Brothers music is an affirmation of the basic roots of jazz, rife with blues, swing from its Africa-Caribbean-New Orleans lineage–all the core elements that make the music a spicy, hard bop melting pot.
Luques Curtis, bass & Zaccai Curtis, piano
Bassist Luques and pianist Zaccai Curtis follow in the rich tradition of family in jazz. One need look no further than the Adderley brothers, the Heath Brothers and the Brecker Brothers to see this music has been the beneficiary of sibling bonds.
The Curtis Brothers artistic journey began in Hartford, CT, where NEA Jazz Master Jackie McLean and the Artists Collective nurtured their early musical impulses. Both continued their studies in Boston, Zaccai at the New England Conservatory and Luques at Berklee. All the while they spent summers at Litchfield Jazz Camp from age 12 on, where they are both now instructors giving back what they received to the next generation of jazz players.
The Curtises have recorded together and with a notable discography of cohorts, including Gary Burton, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Sean Jones, Brian Lynch, Eddie Palmieri, John Santos, and the man they consider a very special mentor—Donald Harrison. In 2010 they debuted their brother act on their own label, Truth Revolution Records, Blood – Spirit – Land – Water – Freedom and followed it with the hard-bop 2012 record, ‘Completion of Proof.’ We welcome them back to Litchfield Jazz Festival.
Donald Harrison, saxophone
Harrison was born in New Orleans in 1960. He grew up in a home environment saturated with the city’s traditional music of brass bands, parades, modern jazz, R&B, funk, classical, world ethnic, and dance music. His connection to New Orleans roots were deepened by his father, a Big Chief in the African and Native American influenced culture of New Orleans’ Black Mardi Gras Indians. They are an offshoot of Congo Square, one of the only known places in North America where Africans openly participated in their culture in the 1700’s and 1800’s.
Ever the innovator, Donald created “Nouveau Swing” – a style of jazz that merges modern dance music like R&B, hip-hop, soul & rock with the swing beat. The style has influenced a movement and can be heard in the music of a number of artist like, Christian Scott, Joe Dyson, Max Moran, Christian McBride, Mark Whitfield, Esperanza Spaulding, Conun Pappas, Carl Allen, John Lamkin, Cyrus Chestnut, Trombone Shorty, and Jonathan Batiste. He has performed with many distinguished musicians including Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Lena Horne, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Eddie Palmieri, and more.
Donald Harrison performed in 2015 at Litchfield Jazz Festival’s Salute to New Orleans & It’s Heros. We look forward to his first appearance on the LJF 2016 Mainstage. Harrison will also perform at the Friends of The Festival Scat & Scramble Jazz Brunch, the proceeds of which will benefit need-based scholarships for Litchfield Jazz camp.