John Daversa is a multi-Grammy winning artist, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, educator, and Chair of Studio Music and Jazz at The Frost School of Music, University of Miami.
Daversa’s celebrated and distinctive musical perspective has been a passport to performances on world stages such as The Today Show, Late Nite with David Letterman, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Live 8 (Berlin), Hamburg Music Festival, Java Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreux Festival, and the Playboy Jazz Festival. He has also had the opportunity to perform or record with artists such as Fiona Apple, Michael Bublé, Dori Caymi, Andraé Crouch, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Bob Mintzer Big Band, and The Yellowjackets.
In 1996, he founded the John Daversa Big Band, which is one of the leading forces of modern jazz today. Junk Wagon: The Big Band Album (2011), won Best in Show and Awards of Excellence in Creativity/Originality and Production in The Global Music Awards.
“Daversa's fearless exploration...takes him off the beaten path, as he creates bold and ballsy big band music for the modern epoch.”-- AllAboutJazz.com.
Daversa’s release, Kaleidoscope Eyes: Music of the Beatles (2016), reverently twists and melts the iconic Beatles songbook with a 40+ orchestra featuring vocal artists Renee Olstead and Katisse Buckingham, garnering three Grammy nominations. Terence Blanchard states, "This is art. This is what music should be. No re-creation. No mimicking. Just honesty. Fearless honesty." Daversa’s 2018 release, American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, won three Grammy awards, including Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Improvised Solo (John Daversa), and Best Instrumental Arrangement or A Capella (John Daversa).
In addition, Daversa leads the John Daversa Small Band consisting of tenor saxophonist Robby Marshall, alto saxophonist/flutist/vocalist Katisse Buckingham, keyboardist Tommy King, bassist Jerry Watts and drummer Gene Coye. This powerhouse ensemble transitions with ease from sections of incredible sensitivity to vignettes of intensity rivaling that of his own Big Band. The Small Band has released two albums, Artful Joy (2012), and Wobbly Dance Flower featuring Bob Mintzer (2017).
Daversa earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from The University of California, Los Angeles, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Jazz Studies at California Institute of the Arts, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California. After teaching at both USC and California State University Northridge, he is now the chair of Studio Music and Jazz at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami.
“John Daversa is one of those rare musicians who is an incredible soloist and an accomplished orchestrator, a composer with an identifiable voice, and an articulate artist who does things in a focused way, always with a clear vision of the hows and whys.”
-Bob Mintzer, Saxophonist, Educator
“Daversa gets sounds to come out of his little red trumpet like you never heard. The band itself ditto, as if Duke Ellington and Béla Bartók had come down from on high and written some brilliant 21st century music for a big band of Berklee post-graduate superstars.”
-Tony Gieske, Los Angeles Times
“It takes a rare talent to be able to make a large band sound "small" (in terms of agility as well as in the transparency and lightness of orchestration), and, vice-versa, some measure of genius to make a small band seem big...”
-Peter Erskine, Drummer, Educator