Coming home from the Grammys

John Daversa, recent Grammy winner, is back in class on Tuesday. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami
By Amanda M. Perez

John Daversa, recent Grammy winner, is back in class on Tuesday. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

Coming home from the Grammys

By Amanda M. Perez
Frost School associate professor John Daversa returns to the University of Miami fresh off his unforgettable Grammy-winning night.

Cheers and applause erupted as John Daversa stepped into a Frost Concert Jazz Band rehearsal Tuesday afternoon, just two days removed from a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles and the Grammy Awards.

Students belted out an array of melodies from clarinets, trumpets, and trombones as they congratulated him for his trifecta sweep at the Grammys.

“We’re back,” Daversa exclaimed.

With music’s biggest day behind him, Daversa was back at the University of Miami Frost School of Music doing what he loves to do—teach.

John Daversa conducts the Frost Jazz Band“There’s nothing better than getting to work with people that have similar passions as you,” Daversa, associate professor of trumpet, said. “I love to help students find their voice. It gives me a sense of service.”

Service was a motivation that inspired the master trumpeter and composer to create the winning album “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom.” Music on the album features 53 talented musicians living in the United States as dreamers enrolled in DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The album, which has gained nationwide attention, won in every category in which it was nominated. Those categories included Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Instrumental Arrangement (on “Stars and Stripes Forever”) and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (on “Don’t Fence Me In”).

“It started with the seed of wanting to create music that has meaning and purpose behind the sound,” he said. “I love music with every ounce of my body, so I’m always thinking about ways in how I can use it to help and serve the community.”

That love for music fueled him to go after the project that helped humanize the story of people living in limbo here in the U.S.

“I traveled to several states to visit and record with these dreamers, and what I found along the way is that many people did not even know about the issue, so I got the opportunity to expose the story and create awareness,” said Daversa.

Daversa studio class with studentsJoel Knee, an undergraduate junior exchange student from London, was one of many students who were the first to congratulate Daversa back at UM. He said he is thankful to call Daversa a mentor.

“Everything he does, he does it with such intention. He manages to have a really close connection with so many of his students, even with his crazy schedule,” Knee said. “I think we owe him a lot for his ability and openness to do that.”

Alan Hsiao, a graduate student taking Daversa’s Jazz Composition course this semester, already sees himself growing as a composer.

“This is the first class I’ve taken with him, and I already feel like I’ve found myself writing in ways that I really haven’t before so it’s really fun and cool,” said Hsiao.

Daversa is already working on his next project.

“I can’t say much, but it also has to do with social change,” he said. “I want to continually shed more light on what we have to pay attention to in our society. My intention is to create more music that affects people in positive ways.”