Curtis Hasselbring is a trombonist, guitarist and composer. As a teenager living in a small midwestern college town, Curtis became obsessed with jazz. He started his college experience at Capital University and after a few years, relocated to Boston, where he attended New England Conservatory and found himself immersed in a creative scene of like-minded musicians who channeled their love of a broad palette of genres into their musical language. After earning Masters degree at Rutgers University (M.M. in Jazz Performance), Curtis made his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he immediately found himself playing in the jazz, world and experimental music scenes. Curtis has performed and recorded with many artists including Medeski Martin & Wood, Slavic Soul Party, Matt Wilson, John Hollenbeck, Golem, the Either Orchestra, and Tom Harrell among others. Curtis appears on over 100 recordings including six releases as a leader (discography here).
Mostly known for his trombone playing, Curtis has also played guitar since his teens and continues to freelance on that instrument playing in a wide variety of situations ranging from instrumental rock (with Chris Lightcap's Superette), Romanian music (with Sanda Weigl) to his own prog-surf trop-tronica band, the Curhachestra.
Curtis leads the group "the New Mellow Edwards", a quartet showcasing Curtis's unusual rock/jazz hybrid compositions and consisting of Curtis (trombone), Chris Speed (tenor saxophone and clarinet), Trevor Dunn (bass) and John Hollenbeck (drums and percussion). The group has released two recordings on Skirl Records. In 2010, Curtis, through a grant from Chamber Music America, composed and recorded "Number Stations" featuring the New Mellow Edwards plus Mary Halvorson, Matt Moran and Satoshi Takeishi. That recording was released in 2013 on Cuneiform. Curtis has also co-lead a big band with Andrew D'Angelo, and leads a quartet called "Decoupage" featuring Mary Halvorson, Matt Moran and Satoshi Takeishi.
Curtis also fronts "the Curhachestra", a quartet consisting of Curtis (trombone, electric guitar), Raphael McGregor (lap steel), Adam Minkoff (electric bass) and Dan Rieser (drums). That group has been playing since June of 2021 and will be releasing a recording late 2023/early 2024.
Since his teens, Curtis has been composing music. Starting off primarily composing in the jazz idiom, he developed his passion as a composer by writing music for the Either Orchestra, an adventurous ten-piece big band that he was a member of when he was based in Boston (1986-1991). Since then, Curtis has composed a large body of works including a trove of big band music, a series of trombone quartets, a plethora of small group-based jazz pieces and varied chamber music including a suite for wind ensemble and a quintet for trumpet and strings. His music has also been recorded by other groups including the Either Orchestra, Chris Lightcap's Superette, Jerry Granelli and the TilT Brass Ensemble. Most recently, Curtis has been involved as an arranger in the Ghost Train Orchestra's "Music of Moondog" project, including arranging pieces for the Kronos Quartet.
Curtis is also active under his nickname, Curha, making a combination of home recorded multi-instrumentalist/electronic music since 2000. He has made several remixes for Frank London and Slavic Soul Party in addition to a variety of EPs self-released on Bandcamp. In 2018, Curha's first full length, "I," was released on Chant Records. The follow-up, "Curha II", was released (also on Chant Records) on March 18th, 2020. September 2nd, 2022 brings his third release for the label, simply called "Curha 3".
Curtis is also part of the trio, Audible Spirits, a group that uses the manipulation of Jamey Aebersold play-along recordings as a springboard for new interpretations of jazz standards. Along with Curtis on trombone and electronics, the group also features Sarah Elizabeth Charles (voice) and Matt Moran (vibes).
Curtis is currently on the faculty at Long Island University (Post campus) teaching jazz trombone and various facets of music technology in the MTEP program (Music Technology, Entrepreneurship and Production). He also has been known to teach at the Maine Jazz Camp in Farmington, Maine.