After graduating from New England Conservatory in 2005, pianist Zaccai Curtis moved to New York City where he performs regularly with artists such as Donald Harrison, Cindy Blackman Santana, Eddie Palmieri, Christian Scott, Ralph Peterson, T.K. Blue, Brian Lynch,Little Johnny Rivero, Ray Vega, Eric Person and others.
Curtis composes and arranges for his own band Cubop, big band Orquesta, Insight, The Curtis Brothers as well as for Chembo Corniel, Steve Kroon, Mitch Frohman and more bands. 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 twice in 2006. They performed in Bangladesh, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai, Sri Lanka and Maldives. In 2007 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.
Saxophonist and composer Albert Rivera is an in-demand performer and
educator. He has played at venues like New York’s Sweet Rhythm, Zinc Bar, B. Smith’s Restaurant, Cleopatra’s Needle, the River Room of Harlem and Dizzy’s Club Coco Cola at Lincoln Center as well as the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
He tours throughout North America with his own trio and quartet and has collaborated with numerous contemporary jazz stalwarts. He is on the faculty at the Litchfield Jazz Camp coaching both young and old players.
The Trading Four jazz group in 2019 was the inaugural recipient of the Chuck Loeb Memorial Scholarship established by the Berks Arts Council and the Reading Musical Foundation.
Trading Four consists of Sashank Sridhar, a 2019 Wilson graduate, on tenor sax; Cormick Costello, a junior at Gov. Mifflin, on bass; Joel Evans, a 2019 Muhlenberg graduate, on drums; and Isaiah Nygard, a junior at Kutztown, on piano.
Sridhar, Costello, Evans and Nygard connected while crossing paths at county and district band events and local school jazz fests. A friendship was born based on their love of jazz and a desire to make a difference in the community, which led to the formation of Trading Four.
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest lost a member of its family when beloved guitarist Chuck Loeb passed away in 2017 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Loeb was a creative force with the fest in many ways for nearly 20 years.
Chuck may be gone, but he will never be forgotten by the Berks Arts Council and the
Berks Jazz Fest with the establishment of the Chuck Loeb Memorial Scholarship. To continue Loeb’s legacy, the scholarship fund annually will support Berks County students who plan to continue their music education after high school.