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Take Five With T. Howard Curtis III

Take Five With T. Howard Curtis III
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Meet Howard Curtis:
T. Howard Curtis III, born in Williamburg, VA, but now living and working in Graz, Austria has been enjoying a multifaceted career as jazz drummer, percussionist and educator for over 30 years.

He has performed in jazz and other music festivals all over the world, including Paris, Germany, Great Britain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, Croatia, Switzerland and Russia. He has performed with Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
b.1946
saxophone
, Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas
b.1961
saxophone
, Julius Hemphill
Julius Hemphill
Julius Hemphill
1938 - 1995
sax, alto
, George Coleman
George Coleman
George Coleman
b.1935
sax, tenor
, Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
b.1953
saxophone
, David "Fathead" Newman
David
David "Fathead" Newman
1933 - 2009
sax, tenor
, Joe Locke
Joe Locke
Joe Locke
b.1959
vibraphone
, Barry Harris
Barry Harris
Barry Harris
b.1929
piano
, Marc Johnson
Marc Johnson
Marc Johnson
b.1953
bass
, John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
b.1944
guitar
, Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
b.1926
sax, tenor
, Odean Pope
Odean Pope
Odean Pope
b.1938
saxophone
, Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
and others. Curtis was recently appointed Full Professor of Music (tenured) at Kunst University in Graz, Austria.

Instrument(s):
Drums and percussion.

Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: George P. Carroll, Rebecca Kite, Dr. Thomas Bates, and Warren Smith.


Influences: Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, Walter Piston, Charles Ives, James Brown
James Brown
James Brown
1933 - 2006
vocalist
.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
first heard the drum line to the area high school band. It was the most powerful sound I ever heard.

Your sound and approach to music:
My sound and approach to music mirror my reactions to the world that I live in. My obligation to my art is to live as full a life as possible, then recreate what I find in life to the dictums of notes and spaces.

Your teaching approach:
I really try to get a student to understand that, when it comes to music, it's one of the freest environments you could put yourself in. However, that freedom does entail certain responsibilities, and obligations.

Your dream band:
A trio with John Coltrane and Larry Young
Larry Young
Larry Young
1940 - 1978
organ, Hammond B3
.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
An agency booked a band I was in, an all-black R&B band, into a country and western club. To say it was the most grotesquely mis-booked tragedy is a gross understatement.

Favorite venue:
NoviSad Jazz Festival in NoviSad, Serbia. I felt like a king.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Like A Crazy. It was my first recording as a leader of original compositions, and people who have heard it routinely express the spirit that they connect with from that music.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Mean What You Say, Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
-Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
1930 - 1986
sax, baritone
Quintet.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I think as long as I am free to write and perform the music I love to play, that, I am contributing good vibrations to the universe...a positive spirit is what we need to invoke more of as artists, within our expressions of humanity.

Did you know...
At one point, I was ready to sacrifice everything—my teaching career and my performance career, tours, and recordings---just to play in James Brown's band

CDs you are listening to now:
Horace Tapscott
Horace Tapscott
Horace Tapscott
1934 - 1999
piano
, Live At Lobero (Nimbus);
Julius Hemphill, One Atmosphere (Tzadik) ;
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
b.1941
vibraphone
, Patterns (Blue Note) ;
Webern, Berg, Schoenberg, Orchesterwerke (Deutche Grammaphon) ;
Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
b.1955
percussion
, Celestial Circle (ECM).

Desert Island picks:
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!) ;
Charles Ives, 4th Symphony;
Elvin Jones, The Ultimate (Blue Note) ;
Mboom-Mboom, Live at SOB's;
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
, Fish Out Of Water (ECM).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Ripe for major change if musicians are willing to take the brunt of the responsibility for everything once controlled by recording companies into their own hands.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
An uncompromising vision of the artist.

What is in the near future?
Different expressions of drum set and percussion:

Animated cartoon series;
Drum and voice improvised duo concerts;
Solo percussion concerts;
More concerts and recordings with my group, PerkussionDiskussion Tours of Turkey, United States.

By Day:
University Professor.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
...writer.


Photo Credit

Courtesy of T. Howard Curtis III

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