Cosimo Fabrizio ’18 was named a 2018 Davidson Fellow for his Jazz Guitar project titled, “21st Century Jazz Music – The Search for Authenticity.” He was awarded a $25,ooo scholarship.
Cosimo writes: “Throughout my experiences growing up, my understanding of the fragile balance that exists between appreciating history and fostering innovation has developed extensively. My work seeks to show case the interconnectedness of tradition and innovation while also addressing the inherit difficulties of this balancing act. My work also stems from a question that has been naturally planted in my head over the past years: is it possible to maintain the integrity and authenticity of an art form while also institutionalizing its education? This portfolio seeks to address that question by commenting on the effect of institutionalization on artistic authenticity.”
Here are three of Cosimo’s performances at the Essentially Ellington Competition with Newark Academy’s Jazz Band Chameleon, directed by Julius Tolentino.
My name is Cosimo L. Fabrizio and I was born and raised in South Orange, NJ. I recently graduated from Newark Academy in Livingston, NJ and will be a freshman at Cornell University in the Fall where I plan to study Economics and Government. I am honored to be named a Davidson Fellow and am excited to join a community of great young thinkers. Being named a fellow further motivates me to raise questions and seek ways to solve problems, in all aspects of my life.
Growing up as a kid in northern Jersey, a third generation Italian on my dad’s side and a first generation Grenadian on my mom’s, my exposure to music was omnipresent. Between the great tenor of Luciano Pavarotti and the irresistible beat of Caribbean calypso, a fascination and love for music’s power as a source of history and family tradition was instilled in me from a young age.
Throughout my experiences growing up, my understanding of the fragile balance that exists between appreciating history and fostering innovation has developed extensively. My work seeks to show case the interconnectedness of tradition and innovation while also addressing the inherit difficulties of this balancing act. My work also stems from a question that has been naturally planted in my head over the past years: is it possible to maintain the integrity and authenticity of an art form while also institutionalizing its education? This portfolio seeks to address that question by commenting on the effect of institutionalization on artistic authenticity.
The biggest difficulty I had completing this work was time. Between school, my extracurriculars, and music–I constantly had to sacrifice things in order to achieve my many goals (I actually ended up missing my junior prom to perform a Count Basie suite with Wynton Marsalis). My experiences in music have instilled in me a constant desire to seek out authenticity in every aspect of my life. They have taught me to value the storytellers in the world, and to recognize that they aren’t always who you’d expect them to be. I hope my work inspires others to join me on this constant search for authenticity, even in seemingly miniscule ways as it continues to shape the way I interact with people on a day-to-day basis. A society that raises and seeks to answers the questions provoked by this work is a society that more aware in understanding and the inclusion of others.
I would not have been able to complete this work if were it not for a couple of great teachers. My band director Julius Tolentino and my Spanish teacher Alexis Romay (an escapee of Fidel Castro’s Cuba) both provided me with insights into the many applications of my idea in and outside of Jazz music and cross cultural boundaries. Wynton Marsalis provided me with the basis of my exploration into this topic of authenticity, and his insight into the role tradition plays in innovation has been integral to my current understanding of the concept.
While my work was submitted into the category of music, I plan on and am working hard to pursue a career in politics. My experience as a musician has developed into a fascination with the intersection of art and politics, and subsequently, culture and government. I am a Young Arts Winner, a Cornell Tradition Fellow and a Newark Academy Ad Lumen Award winner. I was a Varsity Soccer Captain, an executive board member for my school’s equity and inclusion team, a peer leader among many other things. I have work experience in everything from assisting at Grenada’s Ministry of Health during the Zika epidemic to working at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s corporate office to help expand their brand and sponsorship opportunities. I plan to use these many positive experiences, and the ones soon to come, to help make me a more well-rounded and well equipped leader for the future.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Running for elected office.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
What is your absolute dream job?
Holding a high elected office.
If you were a wrestler, what would your entrance song be?
“All Along the Watchtower,” by Jimi Hendrix / Bob Dylan
Aside from necessities, what’s one thing you could not go a day without?
What lame superpower would you want?
The ability to never lose my stuff: wallet, phone, jacket or keys (you asked for lame).
What is one of your favorite quotes?
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” ~ Ronald Reagan
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?
What is your favorite food?
A slice of Nonna’s Pizza
Say you’re independently wealthy and don’t have to work, what would you do with your time?
In addition to doing philanthropic work, I’d keep working toward the goals I have now.
What skill would you like to learn?
How to fly a plane.
What’s your favorite tradition or holiday?
I’m a big Christmas guy.