Insight: A Genesis (2007)
Artists may travel different roads to create a unique Latin Jazz voice. Some musicians follow the established formula, repeating the success of the genre's "legends. Other artists explore a more unique approach, delving into influential musicians outside the genre's popular success stories. A smaller group looks into the most challenging avenues, finding connections between diverse concepts while staying true to tradition. The Curtis brothers and their band Insight take this road less traveled on A Genesis, bringing together diverse influences into a modern Latin Jazz sound.
Some tracks contain traditional Latin structures, complimented with modern jazz approaches. Pianist Zaccai Curtis' assertive chords establish the cha-cha-cha rhythm of "Necessity, as the melody displays broad dynamic range. Saxophonist Jimmy Greene begins with understated phrases, which grow into intensive runs and high-register screams. The band creates a spiritual feel over the guanguanco of "Hilton's Rumba. Zaccai employs bold sequences to build tension, while saxophonist Kris Allen explores dissonant notes and tense rhythms. Zaccai then storms into an up-tempo montuno pattern, introducing conguero Reinaldo De Jesus' powerful solo. These songs maintain strong ties to Latin Jazz history, yet the complex harmonies and aggressive improvisations reflect a modern jazz attitude.
Several compositions experiment with ideas outside the Latin Jazz tradition. A gentle introductory melody explodes into a rhythmic vamp on "A Story in Three. Trumpet player Joel Gonzalez crafts an inventive solo, while the rhythm section explores both son and funk through a nine-beat groove. Greene boldly works through Zaccai's frenetic montuno, ending the song on a strong note. The odd-meter swing of "The Truth Shall Set You Free serves as the foundation for a sly but powerful melody. Zaccai playfully moves rhythms through the odd time, relying on his keen sense of swing and vast rhythmic vocabulary. These pieces reflect the group's ability to combine outside musical approaches with Latin Jazz norms.
Other songs slightly alter Latin structures to create a unique personality. Zaccai's keyboard opens "In the Spirit of JR with a mellow tone, moving into a unique twist on a bolero. The electronic keyboard sound provides a beautiful texture behind bassist Luques Curtis' thoughtful solo. A complex interplay of rhythm section attacks and melodic writing opens "Ulterior Motive. Drummer Richie Barshay breaks into an aggressive funk while Zaccai conjures a Herbie Hancock influence. Lucas furiously improvises, drawing an interesting interplay out of the drummers. Each of these tracks moves in a distinctly new musical direction, while building upon a Latin Jazz foundation.
Insight takes a challenging path throughout A Genesis, resulting in a distinctly modern Latin Jazz approach. Their intensively interactive improvisations and advanced melodic concepts reflect an influence from Miles Davis' 1960's quartet and beyond. The compositional structures and arrangements are intricately formatted, but the performance concept demonstrates an emphasis on acute personal expression. A fiercely authentic use of Afro-Cuban rhythms displays the band's strong roots in the genre. By taking an original road towards a musical statement, Insight pushes Latin Jazz on a journey towards the future.
Track Listing: The Resuscitation; Necessity; Story in Three; In the Spirit of J.R.; Ulterior Motive; Insurrection; The Truth Shall Set You Free; The Panamanian Murga; Hilton's Rumba; The Making; Sudan and Darfur.
Personnel: Zaccai Curtis: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Richie Barshay: drums; Reinaldo De Jesus: congas; Joel Gonzalez: trumpet; Zach Lucas: alto saxophone; Kris Allen: alto saxophone (9); Jimmy Greene: tenor and soprano saxophones.