By Troy Aldrich
The University of Iowa Jazz Studies Department bridges the geographical gap between Brazilian musicians and Voxman, serving as home to Fabio Augustinis, who comes from São Paulo.
The UI graduate student will perform music from his new CD, Sunrise. The album is a collection of diverse music that represents Augustinis’ time at the university, working on his craft as well as spreading knowledge of native Brazilian jazz.
“It’s a huge asset to the university to have someone like Fabio spend two and a half years here,” said James Dreier, a jazz-studies lecturer.
Dreier illustrated the mutual benefits for Brazilian musicians who attend the UI to earn master’s degrees.
“He didn’t come here to simply be a teacher,” Dreier said. “But it would be sinful to not take his knowledge and spread it in a positive way.”
Augustinis came to the UI after completing an undergraduate degree in Brazil. Following the completion of his degree in popular music, he spent seven years in São Paulo recording 16 albums and five DVDs.
“I was doing a lot of things while I was there; they were always related to music, though,” Augustinis said. “A lot of the recordings were grant projects, funded by the government.”
His decision to move to the United States stemmed in part to his home country’s recent turmoil and also because of a connection through his home University of Campinas.
“University of Iowa jazz studies has had a long history with Brazil,” Dreier said. “The first student we had from Brazil was a student while I was also a graduate student here.”
The first Brazilian graduate student to complete a UI master’s was Rafael Dos Santos, who went on to serve as the chair of popular music studies at the University of Campinas.
Augusitinis is not the only Brazilian student studying and teaching jazz at the UI. Rayne Dias is from Minas Geraes, Brazil, and is a member of the group of musicians that recorded on Augustinis’ new album.
Dias also played keyboard for BrazIowa, a group he played with that included Augustinis. The group primarily played music native to their home country and consisted of Brazilian musicians also studying at the UI.
Being a drummer, Augustinis’ primary instrument is non-melodic. Because of its nature, it poses a composing challenge to percussionists who do not fully understand harmony and melody.
“He understands harmonies and melodies,” Dias said. “Which makes it much more enjoyable to play with him.”
The show at the Mill served as celebration for Augustinis’ time at the UI. He played with friends Blake Shaw, Dan Padley, Ryan Smith, and Dias.
“Besides being a great player, he’s a great person,” Dreier said. “He’s made lots of friends here, and the theme of this week is celebrating Fabio’s work done here.”