John Daversa Quintet, Cuarantena | The Vinyl Anachronist

What do you do for an encore after you win three Grammy Awards for a jazz album that celebrates the contributions of young DACA Dreamers to our society? If you’re trumpeter and flugelhorn player John Daversa and you’re living in a COVID world, you stay at home, call a few friends and make an extraordinary new album that celebrates the strengthening of family ties during these unusual times.

You don’t have to speak Spanish to know what cuarantena means–but you do need to be prepared for the rather uplifting message in this new album from the John Daversa Quintet. Cuarantena: With Family at Home is all about overcoming loneliness by spending more time with your loved ones, by giving and absorbing as much love as you can from the people who are truly important to you. Daversa brought this up to the great Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who once recorded one of the albums that truly got me into jazz–1993’s Suite 4 y 20–and the idea for Cuarantena was born.

Once these two legends hammered out some of the scope of the project, John Daversa called on a handful of true masters to help including bassist Carlo De Rossa, drummer Dafnis Prieto and yet another true legend, percussionist Sammy Figueroa. As you might imagine, these five men conjure the perfect setting for this music that’s powered by love–they play with an incredible amount of precision and emotion. You’ll hear no shortcuts here, only experience.

As with the Dreamer album, John Daversa juxtaposes the extraordinary and imaginative performances with occasional spoken work pieces. This time, however, it is Daversa’s voice we hear, as opposed to young and optimistic dreamers. He talks about growing up in a musical family and how those bonds have carried him through life. The stories, like those in American Dreamers, go beyond mere meaning. They drift into a world where your heart and your brain work together to provide a valuable new perspective to our current circumstances.

Another facet to this project is the bolero, which is defined as “a style of music characterized by a moderate to slow tempo and a repeating rhythmic figure under a beautiful melody.” By applying those rules to a rather distinct and gorgeous sound, John Daversa produces one of the most consistent and assured Latin jazz albums I’ve heard in a very long time. It just flows from beginning to end, informal and warm, like family. Stay safe!