Curtis Lundy

Born in 1956, in Miami, Curtis started his musical career on drums, but bass was his calling as he submitted to the sub-tone serenade at age 12. It was scarcely three years before electric bass-wielding Curtis had his own working party band, in the early 70's vein of such advanced groove bands as Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang. At 17 the bass really caught hold of the aspiring football star as Lundy discovered the magic of the acoustic bass in high school. From high school, football jones still intact, Curtis entered the University of Miami where he once and for all determined that music, not the gridiron, held the most promise for his professional pursuits. It was in Miami, in the ?80s, that he first encountered Kansas City alto saxophonist and spiritual Charlie Parker descendant Bobby Watson, forming a partnership that continues to this day with Against All Odds. They co-led groups and formed the New Note label together; they played with the George Coleman Octet, Charlie Persip's big band, Louis Hayes, Sam Rivers, Dameronia, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet and the Savoy Sultans; quite a wide range of jazz styles! Another key relationship was forged at U of M when Curtis came under the tutelage of Lucas Drew, then the principle bassist with the Miami Philharmonic Orchestra. It wasn't long before New York beckoned and Betty Carter summoned Curtis to join her trio, which then also included who were to become two of Curtis' other long time partners; drummer Kenny Washington and pianist John Hicks ? yet another member of the Against All Odds cast. It was the prescient Betty who plucked the young Curtis straight off the streets of Miami and the campus of Miami University as her new bassist back in 1979, thus jump-starting the bassist's big league jazz career. So it was quite apropos that Lundy was part of a select coterie of Betty Carter veterans chosen to work and perform with thirteen of Betty's Jazz Ahead students for the Brooklyn tribute. In the midst of such formidable Carter-ites as Geri Allen, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Don Braden, Curtis Lundy worked diligently with the youngsters and took on a tireless leadership role. His encouragement and attention to musical detail during those rehearsals of the young artist's original material was a constant source of inspiration; seems it's been like that with Curtis Lundy since he first made the scene. Curtis' immersion in the New York scene yielded rewarding associations with such masters as Art Blakey (where Watson first made his mark), Johnny Griffin (where he was reunited with Washington); Freddy Hubbard, Pharoah Sanders, and Hicks' various bands. These and other associations were valuable building blocks that have defined Curtis Lundy's artistry, but the association with Betty Carter (Jazz Ahead Program) runs so deep in his playing and in his philosophy of music. She appeared to think that the bass is one of the singer's best friends, the instrument singers cleave closest to in the ensemble. From Betty Carter, Curtis Lundy learned invaluable lessons in how to swing a groove for all its worth, then turn around and extract all of the ache and longing out of a tender ballad. Curtis Lundy is affirmed as a leader, despite the slim discography, which to date includes the out-of-print vinyl issue Just Be Yourself (New Note), Beatitudes, a date he co-led with Bobby Watson (New Note), and his ongoing choir director role with The ARC Choir, a gospel unit whose 1997 issue Walk With Me (Mapleshade) that stands as a striking example of its genre. In the long overdue and aptly-titled Against all Odds, Curtis is playing with a great cast of musicians, including Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Bobby Watson on alto sax, John Hicks on piano and sister Carmen Lundy (the more well-known jazz musician in the family) on vocals. Leading a band is one of the certain high qualities Curtis brings to Against All Odds. Unlike other bassists who might feel some sense of liberation from the traditional roles when afforded such an opportunity, Lundy does not seize the moment to exhibit gymnastic virtuosity or to pluck bass solos on every track. Instead he is content with truly swinging the ensemble and providing the substantive underpinning necessary to encourage successful output from the soloists.