Friday, October 14, 2011
THE CURTIS BROTHERS - COMPLETION OF PROOF
Throughout this recording there is a strong drum feel, which is echoed in Russ Musto's authoritative liner notes suggesting an Art Blakey Jazz Messengers atmosphere. Zaccai confirms this impression."The music revolves around the drummer. We designed the music specifically for Ralph Peterson to play drums. Ralph has such an extensive grasp of the complete jazz language and, like Art Blakey and Tony Williams, always pushes the rest of the band to push themselves. I added the other drums (bata, Afro-Brazilian percussion, and Barrilles) because I knew that Ralph also has extensive knowledge of Latin music." The original music of Completion of Proof speaks in clear, unified tones; each track is carefully plotted out thematically, and delivered with the kind of high artistry one would expect from this impressive cast of musicians. A brave man who literally took on the Chinese army alone inspired the brisk opener "Protestor". The clarion call urgency of the horn-rich theme statement is bold and declarative. They follow that with a song for their niece "Madison"; if you listen carefully at the end of each 'A' section the horns speak Madison's name! All eight tracks bear a sense of fresh originality in their conception. "The Wrath," "Mass Manipulation," and "Manifest Destiny" comprise a Manifest Destiny suite. These are carefully programmed and plotted selections that continue to bear fruit and further reveal themselves with each listen.
The brothers have recorded with a notable discography of cohorts, including Gary Burton, Orrin Evans, Donald Harrison, Sean Jones, Brian Lynch & Eddie Palmieri, and John Santos among others. They dubbed their 2010 debut brother act Blood - Spirit - Land - Water - Freedom (Truth Revolution). Completion of Proof is another title whose definition is omni-directional. Quizzed on how the title Completion of Proof compliments the sumptuous music they serve up, Zaccai informed: "The title has a lot to do with how this project turned out. We had our hypothesis, completed the experiment which was a success in many ways... Q.E.D. or Completion of Proof." The disc crackles with a vigor rooted squarely in the hard bop tradition, though most assuredly with diverse 21st century generational twists and turns. The Curtis Brothers artistic journey began in Hartford, Connecticut. There NEA Jazz Master Jackie McLean and wife Dollie's exceptional urban cultural development center the Artists Collective nurtured the brothers' early musical impulses, "then David Santoro at the Hartford Academy of the Arts," says Zaccai. Eventually both brothers continued their studies in Boston, Zaccai at the New England Conservatory, and Luques at Berklee College of Music.
Asked how their background and upbringing influenced the sundry aspects of Completion of Proof, Zaccai referred to the date as "American Classical Music in every way. Jazz is an interesting study to me. It is a science in all respects, but "soul" is the base. We named the CD Completion of Proof or in Latin Q.E.D. - quod erat demonstrandum - because this is how scientists indicated that they have proved their theory correct." For the Curtis Brothers, Completion of Proof is an affirmation of the basic root sources of jazz. Their music is rife with the blues, swing rhythms in recognition of the Africa-Caribbean-New Orleans lineage, and the basic core elements that make the music such a spicy, hard bop melting pot. In many ways the music on Completion of Proof is for the Curtis Brothers a refutation of what they view from some of their peers as a denial or dismissal of those root sources. "Fast forward to today's modern jazz and you are lucky to hear just one of those elements come from a performance or recording. Blues harmonies seem to be replaced with simplified classical harmonies. Drums and rhythms have been mixed down in the modern recording so you can barely hear them! Swing has been ripped from the music. In most cases there are no elements of the jazz language... never mind bebop!