Curtis Brothers Quartet with Ray Vega • Latin Jazz


5:00 PM


About the Curtis Brothers Quartet 

The Curtis Brothers Quartet takes bold steps towards a modern Latin Jazz sound, fearlessly pushing their musical approach into new territories. Their unique rhythmic concept is what separates them from most other jazz quartets. All of their music, original or not, is based on the percussive concepts that they have accumulated through their various musical experiences.

Since 2001, the Curtis Brothers’ original sound has captivated audiences from New York and California to India. Often the members are seen playing together with a 7-piece Latin Jazz ensemble, “Insight.” With only four members and with special guest artist trumpet player Ray Vega and with music that is arranged for the rhythm section, the Curtis Brothers feel free to explore many more avenues of music. Even as they explore odd meters, world music, and group improvisation, they keep their audiences on the edge of their seats, getting ready to jump up and dance. Individually, the members of the Curtis Brothers Quartet are or have been sidemen for some of the greatest musicians alive such as Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, Chick Corea, and Jimmy Greene.

Zaccai Curtis has been performing since the age of five. As a high school student in Hartford, CT, he was recognized by “Downbeat” magazine as a top young performer and chosen as the pianist for the National Grammy Band Small Combo. He moved to Boston to continue his studies at the New England Conservatory, then to New York City in 2005. 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, performing in Bangladesh, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. In 2007 Zaccai Curtis was awarded the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism’s Artist Fellowship for Original Composition.

Luques Curtis was born in 1983 in Hartford, CT. After having formal training on piano and percussion, he found himself wanting to play the bass. Luques studied at the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts and the Artist Collective. While attending high school, he was very fortunate to study the Afro-Caribbean genre with bass greats Andy Gonzalez and Joe Santiago. With his talent and hard work, he earned a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now living in the New York area, Luques has not only been performing with the Curtis Brothers Quartet but also worldwide with contemporary jazz luminaries. He is the recent recipient of the 2016 Down Beat Rising Star Bassist in the Critics Poll. He co-owns with his brother Zaccai a record label called Truth Revolution Records.

At the age of 12, when Ray Vega saw Machito & His Orchestra play in Central Park, the South Bronx native decided he was destined to play the saxophone. Enrolled in his school’s music program, he received the bad news that the school was out of saxophones, so he reluctantly switched to trumpet. A year later he was being taught by Downbeat poll winner Jerry Gonzales, an experience that changed Ray’s opinion of the instrument forever. Studying the trumpet throughout his high school years gave Vega the chops to land gigs in the bands backing Paul Simon and Tito Puente. On his own he refined his trumpet, composition, and percussion skills and made his solo debut in 1996 with his self-titled album for the Concord label. Ray Vega also serves as a member of the Bronx Council of the Arts.

Richie Barshay, noted for his work as percussionist with the Herbie Hancock Quartet, has established himself as a prominent musical voice of his generation and is regarded as “a player to watch” by “JazzTimes” magazine. On tour and recordings, his diverse résumé includes Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Fred Hersch, Lee Konitz, Bobby McFerrin, and Pete Seeger among others. Since 2004, he has led outreach projects as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. Now based in New York City, Richie began playing Jazz and Afro-Caribbean music during his youth and has expanded his focus to Indian rhythmic concepts and tabla, inspiring his 2007 recording debut “Homework” on Ayva Records. “’Homework’ introduces a major rhythm voice on the rise,” said “Downbeat” magazine, and “The Guardian” (UK) praised “the arrival of a major innovator who also knows how to have fun.”

Reinaldo De Jesus was born in Barrio Obrero Santurce, Puerto Rico. He began to play the “tumbadoras” at the age of ten because of inspirations such as Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Barreto, and Cachete Maldonado. In 1990 he was admitted to the Escuela Libre De Musica in Hato Rey, P.R., where he and other students founded the salsa group, Revolucion Latina. They performed all over Puerto Rico for four years. Reinaldo graduated from the “ELM” in 1996 and enrolled in the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where he studied classical percussion. In 1998 he received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. Reinaldo eventually moved to New York City and became the new conga player of Ralph Irrizarry’s band, Timbalaye. Reinaldo started his own Latin Jazz Group, Rhythmic Prophecies, which was chosen for the Jazz Ambassadors 2006 program by Lincoln Center and the Department of State.

Program will be announced from the stage.

There will be one intermission.

At the conclusion of the program, members of the audience are invited to meet the artists at a reception with refreshments.