The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Grammy-winning John Daversa amazes SOhO with SBCC bands

John Daversa improvises a trumpet solo on Monday, March 20, while performing at SOhO lounge, Santa Barbara, Calif. Daversa spent much of the previous week mentoring students from SBCC jazz bands before playing a show with them.

The clinking of wine glasses and the murmur of conversation faded away as the final tunings of various jazz instruments rang out like a bell signaling the beginning of City College’s three big bands’ performance. Once the lights dimmed, the room exploded with the soulful sound of saxophones and the steady beat of a drum.

The audience couldn’t wait for the end of the first song before erupting in applause. As the ensembles continued to play, their energy magnified with each note.

City College’s Good Times Big Band, New World Ensemble, and Lunch Break Big Band took the stage with Grammy Award-winning artist John Daversa on Monday, March 20 at the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club.

“We’re here tonight with John Daversa, an amazing trumpet player,” said Jim Mooy, director of Lunch Break and conductor of the City College Symphony Orchestra. 

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Applauded by many for his innovation in the realm of jazz, Daversa is a trumpet player, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, and musical educator. According to Mooy, Daversa is one of the few professional electronic valve instrument (EVI) players in the country. Seemingly odd-looking to many audience members, the EVI is essentially a music synthesizer with a similar playing technique to a trumpet. 

Daversa has won a number of accolades, including the 2019 Grammys for Best Large Jazz Ensemble for his album “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom.” He has recorded with a multitude of artists ranging from Fiona Apple to the Yellowjackets

“It’s a joy anytime we get to play music but to share music with people who are so invested and so engaged and joyous about doing this, those are the people I want to hang out with,” said Daversa. “So thank you all for hanging out with me.”

Before performing on the SOhO stage, the ensembles had the opportunity to work closely with Daversa during two prior rehearsals. During this time, Daversa provided musical insight, feedback, and suggestions to the jazz students. 

“[Daversa] really picked out the details from the band. After a run through, he made a comment to each individual player. To the bassist, to the drummer, and to me personally. He was really attentive,” said 20-year-old Estella Ye, the pianist for Good Times Band. 

As the current professor and chair of Studio Music and Jazz at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Daversa understands the importance of investing in the talents of young musicians. 

“[Art] is what I want to spread everywhere I go, making deeper and deeper music with as many people as I can, especially younger people because they are the ones that are going to carry on when I’m gone,” said the trumpeter. 

The jazz students performed multiple different pieces with Daversa, including a piece entitled “Frankie and Johnny,” which prompted Daversa to share a touching story about music’s impact on his family’s relationship. 

“[Daversa] is a dynamic and metaphoric storyteller, while also being funny,” said jazz member Maria Cincotta.

“To live with gratitude. To live with humility. And to follow your art with no expectation of the outcome,” said Daversa in relation to what he hopes to teach young artists.

Correction: April 17

A previous version of this story misnamed a song as “Frankie” but the official name is “Frankie and Johnny.” The Channels regrets this error.

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