By: Felipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
Label: Truth Revolution Records, 2019
Personnel – Donald Harrison: alto saxophone; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Zaccai Curtis: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Ralph Peterson: drums.
Brothers Zaccai and Luques Curtis, pianist and bassist, respectively, have been strong and stable presences on the top jazz scene with participations in widely recognized projects by pianist Eddie Palmieri, trumpeter Brian Lynch, drummer Ralph Peterson, and saxophonist Donald Harrison. The latter three heavyweights and former jazz mentors join them again (seven years after Completion of Proof) on Algorithm, a stirring post-bop album recorded live and released on the brothers’ record label, Truth Revolution Records.
Six out of the nine chapters of the new album were titled according to mathematical terminology, while the remaining three allude to their mentors with designations such as “Chief”, “The Professor”, and “Sensei”. The first noted tune was written for Harrison, who, communicating joy in his articulated spontaneity, takes his stretch to a peak. Sliding effortlessly with a three time feel, “The Professor” pays tribute to Lynch, whose potent attacks and comprehensive range on the trumpet are something. He goes insanely bluesy in his genuine statement, producing a hair-raising effect by meaning every note he plays. Although Peterson is also impressive on this one, showing off his irresistible drive and complementing it with wise displacements and transitions, it was on “Sensei”, where the band was reduced to a trio format, that he had the chance to explore polyrhythm. The latter tune, a stalwart teamwork effort, is cooked up with piquant Afro-Cuban flavors analogous to the ones found on “Parametrics”, another vehicle for Lynch’s hot blows and Zaccai’s consistently melodic crests and troughs.
The opener, “Three Points and a Sphere” is a post-bop homage to saxophonist Jackie McLean and his wife Dollie, the founding executive director of the Artists Collective, Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut. The tune is front-loaded with acrobatic rhythm kicks and accents, which are transported to the solo section, often pervading the swinging flow and then disrupting it. This fact is not an obstruction to hot-blazing discourses delivered by all.
“Phi” and “Torus” ooze serenity from their soothing harmonic progressions and breathable passages. A glorious Poinciana-inspired Cuban rhythm propels the former, while the latter, incorporating a polished rubato intro before diving into a waltz, is shaped through sparkling brushwork, obstinate bass pedals, refined improvisations by the brothers, and backing horn melodies. At odds with this relaxation, we have “Undefined”, which relies on a particular rhythmic concept by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and also “Staircase of Mount Meru”, a dazzling salute to the Indian mathematician Pingala. For each one of these, the ensemble works on tension and release with passion and logic.
The quintet defends a well-structured contemporary aesthetic without forgetting the essence of the past, mixing elements of present-day post-bop, mature hard bop, Latin, and soul jazz within a framework where the players can shine both individually and collectively.