NEW YORK, NY –- “A Change Is Gonna Come” is a 1964 single by R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, written and first recorded in 1963, and is just one of dozens of protest songs recorded and released, which came to exemplify the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the protest against hunger, poverty and the Vietnam War. Luques and Zaccai Curtis, better known in the music world as the Curtis Brothers, managed to successfully gather a group of talented musicians in creating an 8-track CD called, Completion of Proof, which like the protest music of the 1960s, draws attention to the people of the world who are overcoming struggles and who are peacefully protesting in the streets hoping for a change.
According to a Truth Revolution Records press release, the label promoting the CD, stated: “For Completion of Proof, the Curtis Brothers have enlisted a powerhouse crew of musicians-many of whom serve as mentors to the Curtis Brothers – including drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr., Brian Lynch on trumpet, and their Artist Collective mentor, Jimmy Greene on saxophones. The date also includes alto saxophonist, “Big Chief” Donald Harrison. It was Harrison who gave the Brothers their first touring band experience. “He really showed us how to act, play, and what not to do on the road,” says Zaccai. The underrated fire-breathing saxophonist Joe Ford “has always been an influence from a very early age.” The brothers play in Lynch’s band and alongside Ford with Jerry González Fort Apache Band as occasional subs for Andy González and Larry Willis. Percussionists Rogerio Boccato, Pedro Martinez, and Reinaldo De Jesus help bring further folkloric Pan African flavor to the date.”
Completion of Proof is the CD to get if you are interested in hearing a great band just breaking at the limits of what is presently on the Latin jazz fusion music scene, and hinting at a new way forward. This CD is not about memorable melodies on the themes. It is about aggressively deconstructing form, exploring the possibilities of rhythm, and intimate communication between the musicians.
Luques Curtis, on bass, and Zaccai Curtis on piano, get down to business on the first track, Protestor, which speaks loudly and clearly of something different: The sounds emanating from Donald Harrison’s impassionate alto sax, and Brian Lynch’s galvanizing trumpet, hints that something is new; an upstart sound that would upset jazz purists far more than if you think you are listening to a rock record. For better or worse, the Latin jazz fusion revolution is alive and well in this CD. It’s also ironic that as this review went to press, Time Magazine announced its 2011 Person of the Year as none other than The Protestor. Is the release of Completion of Proof excellent timing or what.
Ralph Peterson’s drumming encroaches upon rock-like rhythms on all the selections, particularly on the Mass Manipulation and Manifest Destiny tracks, which shows the world why he is an extraordinary world-class drummer. Zaccai plays the piano throughout the CD with such precision and precise timing it literally blows you away: While Luques plays the bass with thick and melodic grooves, but still maintains an innate ability to conceptualize the harmony and chords. Jimmy Greene’s tenor sax augments Ford, Lynch, and Harrison so beautifully in The Wrath track; you almost forget that there are four horn instruments playing simultaneously.The Sol Within track has some surprisingly exhilarating percussionist performance by Reinaldo De Jesus, as well as unconventional trumpet playing by Brian Lynch. The Bossa Nova/Brazilian tune has drummer Ralph Peterson starting with a series of smooth drum hits, with Lynch and Harrison’s alto saxophone forming the beat of the rhythm section. Reinaldo is playing the barriles to a melody line that snakes its way through different rhythms with unexpected accents. It sounds improvised but is composed, as becomes clear when it begins to repeat. Still, there are times when Reinaldo improvises and trumps Lynch’s trumpet solo, who beautifully and smoothly adjusts his lines to accommodate the heat of the performance.
The Completion of Proof CD is truly a work of musical art dedicated to the men and women who have the nerve to stand up and speak truth to power. The Curtis Brothers have proven once again why they remain in the groove with the creation of musical stories that experiments with sounds and colors, layers of chromatic tones, cycles and funky Latin grooves.
For additional information on the Curtis Brothers, check out their website: http://curtisbrothersmusic.com/
Danny R. Johnson is San Diego County News’ Entertainment & Travel News Editor