Salsa Meets Jazz

As students become aware of global issues and philosophies affecting the governing system of Cuba, the students will ask better questions about their own belief in American governance. The course will reveal that “salsa” is a mixing of American jazz and traditional Afro-Cuban music. Cuba and US have not traded commodities with each other since 1962, but have engaged in music trading all along.  The students are faced with a question: why and is it right to keep this embargo in place and how is it possible to trade and blend sounds from two disparate cultures? The students will learn that Cuba is one of the ‘superpowers’ of popular music. These questions will lead the Endeavor students in this course to think in depth about their own beliefs.

Expand All
  • Coursework Overview

    The coursework for this Endeavor community involves taking a one-unit course in the fall semester and a half-unit course in the spring semester, both taught by Dr. Davison.

    Fall 2023 Semester

    Spring 2024 Semester

    FYS 100: Where is Cuba? (1 unit)

    IDST 190: Salsa Meets Jazz Seminar (.5 unit)

    FYS 100 satisfies a general education requirement; students are required to take one first-year seminar (FYS) during each of their first two semesters at Richmond.

    IDST 190 is a half-unit project-based course part of the Endeavor program.


  • Specific Course Information

    FYS 100: Where is Cuba?

    This course you will learn about American jazz and its mixing with Afro-Cuban music to form many different styles. This includes Salsa, Mambo and Latin jazz. We will study Cuba and its relationship with the US. This will include cultural, musical, economic and political study. Dr. Davison has been to Cuba over 45 times in the last 25 years and has written ‘Stories of Cuba’ and produced a full-length documentary titled, “Cuba, Rhythm in Motion.” Both will be used as ‘texts’ in the class.

    IDST 190: Salsa Meets Jazz Seminar

    For the past 15 years, Dr. Davison has written and produced a show called "The Cuban Spectacular." This show has been sold out for the last ten years and features video, narration, UR jazz students, guest artists and dancing. The title for April 2024 show will be "A Night at the Tropicana" and will include the students from this Endeavor Program on stage as the audience for the ’show’ - within a show.  You will not only act on stage but help plan the show in terms of staging and script. Students will brainstorm on what else they can do to heighten the atmosphere of the show.

  • Faculty Information

    Dr. Michael Davison
    is a Professor of Music and the Director of Jazz Ensemble.

  • Roadmap Short Course Information

    As part of the Endeavor program, you will participate in the popular Roadmap to Success pre-orientation program, where you will take a short course led by Dr. Davison, called “Rhythm & Blues.”

    Short Course Description:  Rhythm & Blues

    Students in this Short Course will compose lyrics and perform a blues composition for all the other Roadmap students. Sound knows no barriers and the students will be performing and mixing their own  musical style with other class members. Perhaps ‘mixing sound’ is a metaphor for the students to study their own beliefs and reconsider the world around them.  This short course will steer the students to a better understanding of themselves through their performance and prepare them for their Salsa Meets Jazz Endeavor experience.