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New album from John Daversa

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    Posted: 01 Sep 2020 at 8:18pm


The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the lives of almost all Americans. Being cut off from work, family, and friends has been unsettling, to say the least. For some, the difficult times have been exacerbated by loneliness, for others, by the stifling closeness of limited social interactions. But for many, like the multi-talented JOHN DAVERSA, the quarantine has been a time of reflection about the importance of family and the interconnectedness of people who enrich our lives.
CUARANTENA: WITH FAMILY AT HOME, Daversa's eighth album as a leader, is an homage to familial love and the healing power of music through the muse of the bolero. Daversa is an internationally respected performer (trumpet/EVI), composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, educator, and recording artist. His 2018 release, American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, garnered three Grammy awards, including Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Improvised Solo (John Daversa), and Best Instrumental Arrangement or A Capella (John Daversa).
As the Chair of Studio Music and Jazz at Frost School of Music, University of Miami, Daversa associates with some of the finest musicians on the planet, and he was able to assemble a superstar Miami-based band for this project. Pianist GONZALO RUBALCABA has won two Grammys and two Latin Grammys. Piano & Keyboard Magazine selected him as one of the great pianists of the 20th century alongside Bill Evans and other masters. Drummer DAFNIS PRIETO has had a powerful impact on the Latin and jazz music scenes. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship Award and a Grammy Award. SAMMY FIGUEROA is widely considered one of the greatest percussionists in the world. Known for his versatility in a multitude of musical styles, he has performed with many of the biggest names in jazz and pop. CARLO DE ROSA has played bass for everyone from Ravi Coltrane to the New York City Ballet. He has performed around the world and was a US Jazz Ambassador.
Daversa developed the concept for CUARANTENA in a conversation with Rubalcaba, who has been closely associated with the bolero, a style of music characterized by a moderate to slow tempo and a repeating rhythmic figure under a beautiful melody. They began talking about how boleros were played by families at home, and the music became a bond that strengthened and unified the family. It is that idea that formed the basis for this album.
All the musicians on CUARANTENA come from either musical families or from regions with a rich musical culture, and the concept for this album resonates deeply for each of them. Daversa wanted to capture the personal nature of this recording and included spoken word selections by each musician, explaining what the music and the project means to them.
Family is front and center in the music, and Daversa constructed several tunes using melodies written by his father or grandfather. Three of the compositions, "#9," "#22," and "#45," are melodies written by his father. Daversa says, "My father is a brilliant trumpet player. He was a studio musician in Los Angeles studios for many years. I'm excited to share these melodies on this album. He almost never wrote titles for his songs -- he just numbered them."
Daversa's daughter asked him to write a song for the family's two cocker spaniels, Lea and Maya. Pets are part of the family, too, so Daversa composed "Puppitas (para Lea y Maya)." Although Maya passed away a couple of years ago, his daughter wanted both their names in the title. He even included Lea panting on this track.

"Canción de Cuna para Hara" is a gentle lullaby Daversa wrote for his daughter, Hara. Sammy Figueroa's father, Charlie, a renowned bolero singer, died at the young age of 27, but he left behind a celebrated body of work. "El Último Suspiro" is a song associated with Charlie Figueroa.
Daversa wrote "Fábrica de Conservas de San Francisco (La Historia de Molly y Johnny)," a piano and trumpet duet, for his paternal grandparents, whose parents immigrated to America from Italy through Ellis Island and eventually became American citizens. His grandfather wrote a handmade book of his memoirs, which Daversa sometimes reads to his daughter. In the book, his grandfather describes how he met his grandmother while they were working in the San Francisco canneries.
Daversa wrote "La Bailarina (para Tatiana)" for his wife, Tatiana. She is a former professional dancer and ice skater, and the title of the song refers to her free spirit and the beautiful way she moves through life. "Oma (a la Madre Divina)" is an ode to the divine feminine, the mother, Shakti, the Earth, the Universe. "Opus 1 (escrita por El Abuelo Austin)" is a song written by Daversa's maternal grandfather, Austin, who was a professional clarinetist, saxophonist, and educator in Oklahoma.
Daversa's maternal grandmother is a relative of Sgt. Alvin York, who was one of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest. "Soldado Distinguido (para Sgt. Alvin York)" was written to honor his grandmother's family line. Daversa is a fan of Costa Rican singer Debi Nova, and he includes "Un Bolero para Lola," written by the singer for her grandmother.
The themes of CUARANTENA: WITH FAMILY AT HOME, of family and the integrative power of music, could not be more current or necessary for today's troublesome times. The melodies and arrangements are delicate and elegant without ever succumbing to sentimentality. But that's what you can expect from an artist of John Daversa's cerebral depth and big heart, especially when he's joined by musicians of such prodigious stature.
CUARANTENA: WITH FAMILY AT HOME will be released on August 28th on all digital platforms.
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