Everything about “Generation Y,” that generation that came after the baby boomers spelt “Generation Me”. These millennials are not as special as they thought they were. Focused on goals that was materialistic—fame, fortune, image—and a marked decrease in their concern for others, political and civic engagement. However, being a generation of strong likes and dislikes they have influenced the world into altering the most powerful tool of communication: marketing. Just as this can be seen everywhere, there is evidence of this in the music industry, with so much drivel that it is easy to spot the music which stands out as good to great. The Curtis Brothers and their album, Completion of Proof is one of those rare, welcome exceptions from “Generation Y’ers” that is a complete antithesis of what that generation stands for.
This is an album that is sharply aware of music’s role in protest because it is acutely aware of global politics. It is strident; often spiritually so and its energy derives from the fervor of Zaccai Curtis, the sole composer of the work here as well as from Luques Curtis the bassist brother of the pianist Zaccai. The choice of musician is inspired. Almost all of them are older than the Curtis Brothers and although they are all fine musicians and make significant contributions to the compositions of Zaccai Curtis, three stand out: trumpeter Brian Lynch and the drummer Ralph Peterson and the marvelous alto saxophonist Donald Harrison. Their playing has a sense of urgency that is so essential to the music of Zaccai Curtis and they never let the composer down.
The compositions themselves are spectacular as they continue to surprise with theme and content. Most of the world, for instance has forgotten the image of the young Chinese protester who defied the tanks of Tiananmen Square, but not Zaccai Curtis. The strident beauty of his piece will forever ring in deaf ears going forward. Curtis’ other shocker is his tribute to the Onge, an ancient aboriginal tribe native to the Andaman Islands who survived the deadly tsunami not because they retreated to higher ground, but because they heeded the call of the ancestors is as affecting as it is a majestic reminder of the connectivity of all life in its most spiritual form. And the Manifest Destiny Suite—comprising “The Wrath,” “Mass Manipulation” and Manifest Destiny” is a staggering achievement of artistically didactic narrative. The other pieces are of no less significance, but it is the ones mentioned that drive this majestic record.
There may be other young musicians with the talent of the Curtis Brothers, but these young siblings are cutting a new path out of the morass of this materialistic world with earnestness, spirituality and sheer artistry. This is not only refreshing but bodes well for the music industry that is clearly in the hands of Generation Y.
Tracks: 1. Protestor; 2. Madison; 3. The Onge; 4. The Wrath; 5. Mass Manipulation; 6. Manifest Destiny; 7. Sol Within; 8. Jazz Conspiracy.
Personnel: Zaccai Curtis: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Ralph Peterson: drums; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Donald Harrison: alto saxophone (1 – 3, 7, 8); Joe Ford: alto saxophone (4 – 6); Jimmy Greene: tenor saxophone (4 – 6); Pedro Martínez: batá (4, 6); Rogerio Boccato: Brasilian percussion (5); Reinaldo De Jesús: barriles (7).