New York musician Caleb Curtis has shown himself to be an engaging and entertaining saxophonist and composer. He is inspired by musicians who present themselves and their music honestly and with great passion such as alto saxophonists Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, Dick Oatts, and Jaleel Shaw. His major teachers and mentors have been Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Diego Rivera, Vincent Herring, Vincent York, Rick Roe, Mulgrew Miller and Rodney Whitaker.
Caleb grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan in a family that values creativity and happiness, encouraging artistic expression. He was given his first saxophone by his grandfather, an amateur saxophonist himself, when he was ten years old. During the following school year Caleb began playing alto saxophone despite the band director insisting he play trumpet instead. He went on to study music at Michigan State University and perform at popular Michigan venues such as Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, The Firefly Club, Cliff Bell’s, The Michigan Theater, Orchestra Hall (Detroit), Kerrytown Concert House, The Union, as well as at The Detroit International Jazz Festival and the Lansing Jazz Festival. Caleb appeared as a leader and as a sideman with the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra and The Paul Keller Orchestra. He also led his band in radio performances on numerous radio shows in Michigan and New York including The Mitch Albom Show, The Barry Z Show, and Live from Blue Lake with Lazaro Vega. Since moving East, Caleb has performed at Iridium, Small’s Jazz Club, The Garage, Puppet’s Jazz Bar, Cleopatra’s Needle, Puffin Cultural Forum, and The Jazz Spot among others. The Caleb Curtis Trio was featured at the 2009 Stoop Celebration presented by F.O.K.U.S. He currently performs as a leader with a quintet co-lead with bassist Marcos Varela, a trio, a Michigan quintet with trumpeter Chris Lawrence, and with the Logan Thomas Quartet.
In the past couple of years Caleb has received a DownBeat Outstanding Soloist Award; led his quintet in the invitational, full scholarship Jazz Aspen Snowmass Band Academy; received recognition from The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as an outstanding instrumentalist and composer with performances on their Millennium Stage as part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency; he was also a finalist in the Gene Harris Jazz Competition. In 2008 he traveled with the Michigan State University Jazz Orchestra and Yutaka Shiina to Japan (Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, Kyoto, Tokyo, Narita) for two weeks of performances and master classes.
In addition to performing and composing, Caleb enjoys teaching in a variety of settings. In 2008 and 2009 he served as the jazz saxophone instructor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp where he taught saxophone, improvisation, jazz history and conducted rehearsals. He enjoys teachings students of wildly different ages and ability levels.
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