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Artist Profile: Zaccai Curtis

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Zaccai Curtis
Pianist, Arranger, Bandleader Zaccai Curtis. Photo: zaccaicurtis.com

Zaccai Curtis moved to New York City in 2005 where he’s connected with and regularly performed with artists such as: Lakecia Benjamin, Christian Scott, Donald Harrison, Cindy Blackman Santana, Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch, the Mambo Legends, Abraham Burton, Ralph Peterson, Ray Vega, and Avery Sharpe among others.

Currently Zaccai is a professor of music at the University of Hartford: Jackie McLean Jazz Studies Division and University of Rhode Island. Besides being an educator Zaccai authored two books “Art of the Guajeo” and “Theory of the Common Voicing” which are meant to aid students in their Jazz and Latin Jazz education. Zaccai composes and arranges for his own quartet and trio as well as for artists such as Little Johnny Rivero, Steve Kroon, Sonido Solar and more. 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 Curtis was awarded the ‘Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism’s Artist Fellowship’ for ‘original composition.’ In 2017 Curtis became a Chamber Music America: “New Jazz Works” grant recipient. In 2020 Zaccai was voted as the Rising Star in the Critics Poll for Downbeat Magazine. Most recently, Curtis has been invited to be the special guest director for 2023 CMEA Southern Regional High School Jazz Band.

When Zaccai is not busy being a sideman, he performs his own music with his group ‘Zaccai Curtis Quartet’ and ‘Sonido Solar’ and after five successful releases. He plans on releasing his next recording Cubop Lives! in 2024.

Zaccai, along with his brother Luques, has developed the record label TRRcollective which is a collective of musicians that produce their own music and release it together. He is also proud to have produced and released the GRAMMY nominated album, Entre Colegas by Andy González (2016). Zaccai has 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.

Zaccai Curtis with Jerry González and the Fort Apache Band

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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