Jazz Power Initiative continues 20th anniversary season
with “An Ode to Maestro Eddie Palmieri”
as part of the Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam series

Zaccai Curtis presents “An Ode to Maestro Eddie Palmieri” (provided by Zaccai Curtis)

New York City, December 6, 2023 – Jazz Power Initiative (JPI), an Inwood-based non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission of transforming lives through jazz music, arts education and performance, continues its 20th anniversary season in December with the acclaimed Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam and “An Ode to Maestro Eddie Palmieri” with Zaccai Curtis Quintet featuring Luques Curtis and the New York City All City Latin Ensemble under the direction of Alberto Toro and Steven Oquendo.  

Held twice-monthly, the Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam presents professional and emerging jazz artists with a different featured guest, offering audiences cross-cultural and multidisciplinary sets of new works and jazz standards; the audience is then invited to join in and “jam,” bringing together artists, community members and general audiences of all ages, “to experience the power of jazz, community, and swing!”   

The Intergenerational Jazz Jam will be held Wednesday, December 13, 2023 7-9 PM at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center featuring NYC All City High School Latin Ensemble under the direction of Alberto Toro and Steven Oquendo with special guests Zaccai Curtis and Luques Curtis, and Saturday, December 16, 2023 4-6 PM at National Jazz Museum in Harlem featuring Zaccai Curtis Quintet featuring Luques Curtis with an ode to the great pianist/composer, Eddie Palmieri.  

It’s hard to imagine a world without the music of maestro Palmieri. Zaccai Curtis quintet’s performance will reflect the importance of Eddie Palmieri and highlight the true span of maestro’s staggering influence.  Zaccai Curtis is mostly known as a sideman with Eddie Palmieri, Lakecia Benjamin, Donald Harrison, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Christian Scott, T.K. Blue, Bran Lynch, Ray Vega, and Ralph Peterson. He’s also known for performing around the country with the Curtis Brothers bands, co-led with Luques Curtis. This time Zaccai leads his own ensemble mixing jazz and R&B concepts with Afro-Puerto Rican and Cuban elements. For this project, Curtis takes inspiration from his mentors Eddie Palmieri and Donald Harrison joining rhythms from the Latin world and Nouveau Swing. Rest assured you’ll be hearing a brand-new sonic imprint in the world of jazz.

An inventive and percussive pianist, Zaccai is a brilliant composer and arranger, as evidenced by his previous recordings with the Curtis Brothers, Algorithm, Completion of Proof, Syzygy and Nuestro Tango. He is cofounder of the record label, TRRcollective and recipient of a 2017 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America. He performs regularly with Sonido Solar.

Mr. Curtis brings with him not just a propelling concept, but some very talented friends: Craig Handy on saxophone, Luques Curtis on bass, Reinaldo de Jesus on percussion and Joe Dyson on drums. 

Jazz Power Initiative first launched its Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam series in 2017 in partnership with, and presented at, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, hosted and led by Managing and Artistic Director, pianist Eli Yamin (aka “Dr. E”). The first house band also showcased emerging jazz stars, including saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, and bassist Endea Owens.

Over the past six years, thousands of audience members have witnessed more than 100 professional artists, with over 250 “jammers” participating. These include over the past three years our Community Artists-In-Residence: vocalist Antoinette Montague (2022); percussionist and bandleader Annette A. Aguilar (2023), and trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, Steven Oquendo (2024); as well as performances by composer/vibraphonist Nikara Warren, tuba player Bob Stewart, violinist Curtis Stewart, clarinetist Evan Christopher, vocalists Charenee Wade and Catherine Russell, saxophonists Claire Daly, Jon Irabagon and Knoel Scott, percussionist Chembo Corniel, trombonist Ray Anderson, trumpeter James Zollar, bassists Lonnie Plaxico, Melissa Slocum and Jennifer Vincent,  and dancer/choreographers Mickey Davidson, Max Pollak, and Kim Holmes, as well as students from LaGuardia High School Jazz Band directed by Kevin Blancq, and Harlem Samba directed by Dr. Dana Monteiro.

Dr. Eli Yamin, JPI’s Managing and Artistic Director, also notes: “The Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam is a heap of fun for jazz fans and anybody you know who might be moved by the sound of surprise, renewed by the feeling of soul and embraced by a diverse community of people who love music!”

Continue celebrating JPI’s 20th anniversary season, highlighting emerging and veteran jazz artists in our community.  The schedule for the Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam upcoming concerts is: 

DECEMBER 13th 7-8:30 PM at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center
DECEMBER 16th 4-6 PM the National Jazz Museum in Harlem 

FEBRUARY 14th 7-8:30 PM at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center
FEBRUARY 17th 4-6 PM at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem 

MARCH 13th 7-8:30 PM at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center
MARCH 16th 4-6 PM at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem 

APRIL 17th 7-8:30 PM at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center
APRIL 20th 4-6 PM at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem 

National Jazz Museum in Harlem, 58 W 129th St, New York, NY 10027 – Suggested Donation: General $10, Students/Seniors $5
Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, 530 W 166th St, New York, NY 10032 – No charge for admission 

Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam is produced by Jazz Power Initiative, a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003, is made possible in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; the Howard Gilman Foundation; the Hispanic Federation; the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York and the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development; the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and individual donors.

About the artists:

Pianist and composer Zaccai Curtis moved to New York City in 2005, where he 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 in the Jackie McLean Jazz Studies Division and the University of Rhode Island.

In addition to being an educator, Zaccai authored two books, “Art of the Guajeo” and “Theory of the Common Voicing,” 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 he received this honor consecutively through 2006. Zaccai and his quartet were selected by the U.S. State Department to be part of the American Music Abroad (Jazz Ambassadors) program in 2006, performing in Bangladesh, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai, Sri Lanka, and the 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 the Rising Star in the Critics Poll for Downbeat Magazine. Most recently, Curtis has been invited to be the special guest director for the 2023 CMEA Southern Regional High School Jazz Band.

When Zaccai is not busy being a sideman, he performs his own music with his groups ‘Zaccai Curtis Quartet’ and ‘Sonido Solar.’ After five successful releases, he plans on releasing his next recording, “Cubop Lives,” in 2023.

Zaccai, along with his brother Luques, has developed the record label TRRcollective, a working community of musicians that produce and release their own music 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 called ‘The Riff: Music News,’ available for free on iTunes and Android.

New York City’s All-City High School Latin Ensemble is a Big Band dedicated to honoring the musical traditions of the New York City Palladium era, as well as the traditional and contemporary styles of several cultures across Latin America. By playing charts that span from Machito and Tito Puente to present-day hits, students hone their technical skills, become more versatile musicians, and gain deep insight into the rich traditions of Latin music from a historical perspective.

With a full Latin percussion section and four vocalists singing in the soneo style, the Ensemble performs repertoire in musical styles that include the Cha-Cha-Cha, Bolero, Son Montuno, Rumba, Salsa, Guaguancó, and Merengue. Through a partnership with multi-GRAMMY Award winner Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, participating students also have the opportunity to work with professional musicians who have performed with the biggest names in Latin music, including Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades, Arturo Sandoval, The Tito Rodriguez Orchestra, and Tito Puente.

The All-City High School Latin Ensemble is one of seven ensembles comprising the All-City High School Music Program, a free Saturday program in its 88th season that is operated by the NYCDOE’s Office of Arts & Special Projects.

Jazz Power Initiative is a community-based performing arts and educational non-profit organization, founded in 2003. Jazz Power serves thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually – students, teachers, artists, seniors and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to build more creative and inclusive communities. Led by our Managing and Artistic Director, Eli Yamin, and highly experienced teaching artists who are award-winning jazz, theater and dance professionals, we also offer multidisciplinary training, scholarships and performance opportunities to New York City youth, ages 8-22, from every economic and social milieu at low or no cost to families. With our extended outreach to students in under-served New York City public schools in Northern Manhattan, we currently engage hundreds of students and their teachers annually, providing after-school instruction mainly in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood (where our offices are located) and the Bronx. Our programs include after-school youth workshops at the United Palace; our monthly Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center; local community senior center workshops, and our annual Jazz Power Institute at Lehman College (CUNY) for artists and educators.

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is a museum dedicated to preservation and celebration of the jazz history of Harlem, Manhattan, New York City. Their vision is to make jazz accessible to everyone on the planet. They are a living, evolving museum for the people, center for jazz and a place in Harlem where visitors gather to enjoy history and music, and where artists come to play, rehearse, create or drop-in, even when no one else is there, just to be in the space that so many others have passed through.

Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center is a multi-disciplinary arts center in Washington Heights that showcases contemporary and classical Dominican and Latin American art, dance and music. Intergenerational learning, transnational and cross-cultural activities are the philosophical guidepost of the Center. Lessons and workshops in computer, arts making, popular and traditional dances and Afro-Latin percussion, as well as literary conferences, music and theatrical performances are provided free of charge. In addition, the Cultural Center is home to a state-of-the-art computer lab funded by Charter Communications.

Media Contact:

Janny Gonzalez Velasquez

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