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Curtis Nowosad

Showtime: 12:30AM
Doors Open at 12:00AM

$15.00 $15.00

*Day-of-show price is $15*





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Curtis Nowosad

Nearly 100 years after the Harlem Renaissance shook the world, there’s a whole new cultural and spiritual awakening in that corner of the jazz world. Organized by post-bop pianist Marc Cary, The Harlem Sessions (originating at Gin Fizz and now based at Smoke Jazz Club) invites musicians, poets, artists, philosophers and dancers to build and explore a new common repertoire with original ensemble arrangements. A key player in galvanizing this fresh and dynamic sense of cultural awareness, drummer/composer Curtis Nowosad was on hand anchoring the groove every week during the gathering’s first years – and he’s still part of the action today.

Having made his home in Harlem since 2013 when he was working on his masters at the Manhattan School of Music, the 31-year-old Canadian native emerges as a powerful musical force for social justice on a groundbreaking self-titled jazz and blues-driven collection that illuminates past and present American history while creating some profound history of its own.

While it may seem curious to some that Curtis would self-title his third overall album, it’s reflective of a desire to share his deeper core identity. Co-produced with Cary, it’s also the drummer’s first collection to feature the explosive and intuitive chemistry of his NY-based ensemble that has held court in NYC everywhere from Smalls, Fat Cat and Rockwood Music Hall to The Jazz Standard and full week residencies at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The group includes Duane Eubanks (trumpet), Braxton Cook (alto sax), Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Jonathan Thomas (piano, Fender Rhodes, organ) and Luke Sellick (bass). Guests include Corey Wallace (trombone), Matthew Whitaker (organ) and vocalists Michael Mayo (whose beautiful wordless vocal brings a rich humanity to “The Water Protectors” and “Song 4 Marielle Franco”) and Brianna Thomas, who brings the burning soul-blues angles and edges to “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and “See Line Woman.” Cary himself guests on Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer and synth.

Curtis laid the foundation for this current release with two previous critically acclaimed collections, his debut The Skeptic & the Cynic, and Dialectics (Cellar Live). “Stylistically, the new album is definitely a departure from those, yet is a much better reflection of who I am and the themes and issues that matter to me. It’s more important to me than just, ‘here are some new songs.’ These social issues were always simmering in my mind, and I was very vocal about them among the people I know and love, but it took a while before I was able to convey my feelings musically.”

“It’s safe to say I’ve lived a lot of life between the release of Dialectics and now,” he adds. “I’ve gained a great deal of life and musical experience and been through a lot, so it felt appropriate to self-title the album. The music is very personal to me. I have gained a lot of insight living in Harlem for the past 5 1/2 years, and as a European-descended practitioner of Black American Music, I feel it is my duty to approach this music and these themes in a respectful, earnest and serious manner. I also feel that as I have made the transition from being an ‘outsider looking in’ (being from Canada) to an ‘insider looking out,’ so to speak, I have a unique perspective that I have chosen to express with this album.”

Curtis, who started playing drums at 12 and picked up piano at 16, grew up in Winnipeg, the son of a piano teacher mother and saxophonist father. While he grew up hearing jazz around the house, Curtis opted instead for bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Yet his mindset shifted quickly from hard rock to jazz when he heard Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, particularly their 1963 album Caravan.

Establishing himself on the NY jazz scene, Curtis has played in the bands of Philip Harper, Craig Harris, rising star saxophonist Braxton Cook and renowned pianist Marc Cary (who both make major contributions to the album) while headlining major jazz festivals in Canada and several in the U.S. He has also performed with four NEA Jazz Masters: Candido Camero, Dave Liebman, Jimmy Owens and Kenny Barron. A recipient of several awards and scholarships, in 2014 Nowosad performed at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam as a winner of the Keep an Eye Jazz Award. He was twice selected to participate in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and also attended the Banff Jazz Workshop.

“Thematically, my feeling is that if we never deal with history we will never know how to grow and move forward as a society” he adds. “One of the problems in the U.S, Canada and many other countries is that we don’t do nearly enough to understand that history and take the necessary steps toward dismantling systems of oppression. Jazz has always inherently reflected the times it’s created in, but often when it’s institutionalized in colleges and university programs, we tend to focus on jazz history alone as opposed to the American and world history it emerges from. I hope this project will inspire listeners to read up on the different icons I was inspired to write about, and open their eyes and ears to not only what was going on in previous generations but also today. By better understanding those important connections, we can collectively begin to question all the societal structures around us.”


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