Have you ever wondered what your favorite musicians are listening to, or the recordings that influenced them? “Take Five” is a look at the music that inspires and excites them. It’s difficult to choose ONLY five recordings!

Pianist, composer, author, and educator Zaccai Curtis’s passion for jazz, Latin jazz, and music education has led him to perform and collaborate with Eddie Palmieri, Andy Gonzalez, Ralph Peterson, Lakecia Benjamin, Ray Vega, Donald Harrison, Cindy Blackman-Santana and Brian Lynch among others.

Curtis is a Professor of music at the University of Hartford: Jackie McLean Jazz Studies Division, founded by jazz titian Jackie McLean and his wife Dollie McLean and the University of Rhode Island. He recently created the first-ever music news app developed for record labels, artists, and venues, The Riff: Music News available for free on iTunes and Android.

In addition to collaborating with his bassist brother Luques, Zaccai leads his bands and is currently on tour with Grammy-nominated alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. He graciously took time from his hectic schedule to share five recordings that inspired him.

His latest CD is “Cubop Lives! released on the TRR Collective label developed by the Curtis Brothers is also a collective of musicians that produce and release their music together.

Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band – “Fire Dance”
“I modeled so much of my arranging, sound, and concept around this band, trying to imitate and capture their essence but more importantly, their ability to unapologetically eliminate any corniness.”

Horace Silver – “Horace Silver Trio – New Faces New Sounds”
“Along with Bud Powell this album shaped my approach to music serving as a gateway to bebop.”

Eddie Palmieri – “Solito”
“There are so many of his recordings that are influential for me and this is definitely one of the top: the arrangements, execution, originality, and musicianship are just superb. He changed music forever with his sound and swing. Each tune is perfect, but ‘Cada Vez Que Te Veo’ alone puts this album in the top five”

Art Blakey – “Free For All”
“My favorite configuration of my favorite band of all time. I can’t put this album into words but I have two albums that are spawned from how Reggie Workman doesn’t “walk” while Blakey is swinging… such an innovative sound for me.”

Kenny Kirkland – “Kenny Kirkland”
“His playing along with Danilo Perez, Kenny Barron, and Mulgrew Miller has been part of my strong modern influences. This album in particular has always been in my listening devices from the first moment I got it.”

Website: www.zaccaicurtis.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/caicurtis
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfqlSxBsnrCelXJurJY3soQ

Selected Discography
As a Leader:
Cubop Lives! (TRR Collective)
Nuestro Tango (Natalie Fernandez, Zaccai Curtis & Insight) (TRR Collective)
Insight: A Genesis (TRR Collective)
The Curtis Brothers – Completion of Proof (TRR Collective)
The Curtis Brothers – Algorithm (TRR Collective)
The Curtis Brothers Quartet – Blood.Spirit.Land.Water.Freedom (TRR Collective)
The Curtis Brothers – Syzygy (TRR Collective)
Eddie Palmieri Presents Sonido Solar (featuring Zaccai and Luques Curtis) (TRR Collective)

As a Side Man:
Ralph Peterson and The Messenger Legacy – Onward & Upward (Onyx Music)
Ralph Peterson, Zaccai Curtis, Luques Curtis – TriAngular III (Onyx Music)
Ralph Peterson – Raise Up Off Me (Onyx Music)
The O’Farrill Brothers – Giant Peach (ZOHO)
Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (Christian Scott)-Rewind That (Concord)
Robert Edwards – Sound Business (D Clef Records)
Brian Lynch Presents Madera Latino: A Latin Jazz Perspective on the Music of Woody Shaw (Hollistic MusicWorks)
Albert Rivera – Back at It (TRR Collective)
Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. – The Survivor (Nagel Heyer)
Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. – Congo Square Suite (TRR Collective)
Andy Gonzalez – Entre Colegas (Producer, Grammy-nominated) (TRR Collective)
Eric Person -The Grand Illusion (Distinction Records)
Avery Sharpe – 400: An African American Musical Portrait (JKNM Records)
T.K. Blue – Amour (Dot Time Records)

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