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Zaccai Curtis

After graduating from New England Conservatory in 2005, Zaccai Curtis moved to New York City where he performs with artists such as: Ralph Peterson, Brian Lynch, Ray Vega, Antoine Roney, Wallace Roney, Cindy Blackman, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, Papo Vasquez, and Donald Harrison.

Zaccai Curtis composes and arranges for his own quartet, trio, solo piano works, Big-Band, Orchestra, as well as large and small ensembles with strings. In 2001 he was commissioned to arrange Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol” to be performed by his 7 piece latin jazz ensemble ‘insight’ with the Hartford Symphony Chamber Orchestra. In 2003 he was chosen as a winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s competition and each year consecutively through 2006. Zaccai and his quartet were selected by the U.S. State Department to be in the American Music Abroad (Jazz Ambassadors) program two times in 2006. They performed in Bangladesh, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai, Sri Lanka and Maldives. In 2007, Zaccai was awarded the ‘Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism’s Artist Fellowship’ for original composition.

Zaccai currently performs his own music with his group ‘Curtis Brothers quartet’. Zaccai and brother Luques Curtis are currently releasing their album ‘completion of proof’, after two successful albums, “a genesis” and “Blood spirit land water freedom”. Zaccai is also the head of his own record label ‘truth revolution records’, where music from talented independent artists is released.

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Album Review

Felipe Salles: Tiyo's Songs Of Life

Read "Tiyo's Songs Of Life" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Talk about remarkable origins; the music on Tiyo's Songs of Life, performed by tenor saxophonist Felipe Salles' quartet, was written by Tiyo Attallah Salah-El while he was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a Pennsylvania prison. In spite of his circumstances, Salah-El never lost his love for life, an upbeat frame of mind that is ever-present in these nine sparkling originals. While imprisoned, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees and founded the Coalition for the Abolition ...

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Album Review

Felipe Salles, Zaccao Curtis, Avery Sharpe, Jonathan Butler: Tiyo's Songs Of Life

Read "Tiyo's Songs Of Life" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan


Embarking on an errant path in his youth led saxophonist Tiyo Attallah Salah-El to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. That is about as grim as it gets, but Salah-El, rather than giving in to defeat, turned himself into a behind-the-bars composer, author and activist. He passed in 2018, but his music came to the attention of saxophonist Felipe Sallas via prison abolitionist Lois Ahrens, who had befriended the imprisoned saxophonist Salaah-El, and even provided him with fifty ...

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Album Review

Ralph Peterson & the Messenger Legacy: Onward & Upward

Read "Onward & Upward" reviewed by Paul Rauch


Generally speaking, legacy bands are created to preserve the music of an artist. They feature innovative interpretations of an artist's compositions or past performances to share with future generations of listeners. In the case of drummer Ralph Peterson, his ambitious efforts to honor the continuum of his mentor Art Blakey are forward thinking, about a collective gathering of resources that stress creative thought and individuality. Just as the true legacy of the Jazz Messengers portends, contributors are charged with replenishing ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Tiyo's Songs Of Life

Tapestry Records
2022

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Onward & Upward

Onyx Music Label
2020

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Toe Tappin' Tasty

From: Tiyo's Songs Of Life
By Zaccai Curtis

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