Like many Americans, Roger Davidson discovered the bossa nova through the recordings of Stan Getz, and since then, the sounds of Brazil have been especially close to his heart. In four previous CDs – Brazilian Love Song, Bom Dia, Rodgers in Rio, and Bingo – he brought his unique spin to the music of a country that, remarkably, he had never visited. In October 2011, that changed.
Accompanied by his producer, the Argentine bassist and bandleader Pablo Aslan, Roger took his first trip to Brazil. Most of his eight days there, which he spent in Rio de Janeiro, were occupied by six recording sessions. Roger arrived with a hundred of his Brazilian compositions to choose from; the songs he recorded – in addition to several new ones he composed in Rio – comprise these two CDs.
Original compositions by Roger Davidson (Musica Universalis, BMI)
Roger Davidson, piano
Marcelo Martins, tenor and soprano sax, flute
Gilmar Ferreira, trombone
Leonardo Amuedo, guitar
Ney Conceiçao, electric bass (CD1 tracks 1,2,9 – CD2 tracks 1,2,4,7,8,12)
Sergio Barrozo, acoustic bass
Rafael Barata, drums (CD1 tracks 1,2,9 – CD2 tracks 1,2,4,7,8,12)
Paulo Braga, drums
Marco Lobo, percussion
Executive Producer: Roger Davidson
Producer: Pablo Aslan
Associate Producer (USA),: Alexandra Aron
Associate Producer (Brazil): Luciana Pegorer and Marcelo Pera (Delira Musica)
Assistant (Brazil): Ugo Perrota
Recorded October 2011 at Zagamusic Studios, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Engineer: Roger Freret and Alexandre Moreira
Mixed by Roy Hendrickson at Avatar Studios NYC
Mastered by Scot Hull, Masterdisk
Photography: James Gavin (cover)
Photography: Guarim de Lorena
Video: Fuzo Productions
Liner Notes: James Gavin
Portugese Translation: Susan Pereira
CD Design: Mariano Gil
Journey to Rio (Soundbrush – 1026) has a title with more than one meaning. Pinaist/composer ROGER DAVIDSONhas had a lifelong love affair with the music of Brazil, and has been composing tunes influenced by this attraction for most of his career. It was not until about two years ago that he finally had the opportunity to make a trip to Rio where he recorded this two-disc set of 28 original compositions with a stellar band of Brazilian musicians. Davidson, the players and his music found an easy, natural confluence, and the results are impressively cohesive. The musicians are Davidson on piano, Marcelo Martins on reeds, Gilmar Ferreira on trombone, Leonardo Amuendo on guitar, either Ney Conceiçao on electric bass or Sérgio Barrozo on acoustic bass, Rafael Barata or Paulo Braga on drums, and Marco Lobo on percussion. Davidson’s compositions have strong melodies that lend themselves to improvisation, and his musicians are adept at taking them to pleasurable places. Davidson’s Journey to Rio is a trip worth sharing. (www.soundbrush.com)
"ROGER DAVIDSON/Journey to Rio: We always look forward to a new Davidson release because you can palpably hear that honing his chops and expanding his vision is a never ending task that he doesn't look at a chore. When you own your own record company, you get the say so to put out a double album of your Brazilian fascinations as recorded in Rio with a bunch of top contemporary Brazilian cats making a joyful noise. Reminiscent in vibe to the pockets in Sergio Mendes' A&M albums where they would let him have a one-for-me track where he kept it real, except expanded to a double album, this is the kind of glorious set Scott Adams could devote a whole show to. Spirited stuff that keeps it's edge and never becomes tourist/gift shop music, it's real and inviting at the same time. Gringos, start your engines, Davidson has already done the work for you. Well done."
Soundbrush Records is proud to release pianist Roger Davidson’s new album, Journey to Rio. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro, the project features a wide range of top-flight Brazilian musicians and was produced by Pablo Aslan, the gifted Argentine bassist.
For Roger Davidson, music is a world without boundaries. Both as a composer and pianist, he has a fearless reach. Though often termed a classical artist, Davidson has explored tango, klezmer, Latin music, and jazz in recent years, however he has always held the multifaceted sounds of Brazil especially close to his heart. His long-standing passion for Brazilian music has resulted in several albums, including Bom Dia (2007) and Brazilian Love Song (2009). His latest, Journey to Rio, is a double-disc release showcasing 28 original Brazilian compositions.
Having traveled the world to learn about all styles of music, international synergy is in Davidson’s blood. Born in Paris to a French mother and American father, his family relocated to New York shortly after. Davidson began playing piano at the age of four, ultimately discovering the bossa nova recordings of Stan Getz at age 10 through his babysitter playing Getz’ Big Band Bossa Nova. “That was the start of my lifelong love affair with Brazilian music. I thought it was beguiling, uplifting, sexy, relaxing, and very melodic. It made me want to go to Brazil to find out where the music came from.” Nearly fifty years later, he found out.
In October 2011, accompanied by Aslan, Davidson took his first trip to Brazil with the intention recording this project. “I’ve been living with the music for forty years,” he says, “so it was almost like a homecoming.” Most of his eight days there, which he spent in Rio de Janeiro, were occupied by six recording sessions.
Journey to Rio features deeply emotional Brazilian love songs alongside Davidson’s French inspired compositions. These compositions enforce a sense of rooted emotion that melds Davidson’s vast life experiences of international culture with the modern expressions of Brazilian jazz. With Davidson melody always comes first. “Any music has to start with a strong melodic line,” he asserts. Like Debussy with his Preludes, Davidson gives his compositions titles that evoke scenes suggested by the music. They focus largely on love and nature, the prevailing themes of the bossa nova. Meanwhile, he pays more than passing respect to the moody, pulsing sound he heard on those Getz bossa records.
The sessions include two respected bassists: bossa nova veteran and acoustic player Sérgio Barrozo and electric bassist Ney Conceição, who was a longtime collaborator of João Bosco. The resulting line-up of trombonist Gilmar Ferreira, soprano and tenor saxophonist Marcelo Martins, percussionist Marco Lobo, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, and alternating drummers Paulo Braga and Rafael Barata showcases some of Rio’s finest musician.
Roger Davidson's 2013 studio album, Journey to Rio, features the pianist's exploration of the music of Brazil. Produced by Argentine bassist Pablo Aslan, Journey to Rio features a broad mix of Davidson's original compositions that mix bossa nova with his own interests in classical, jazz, and French sounds. Joining Davidson here is a stellar group of musicians including saxophonist Marcelo Martins, trombonist Gilmar Ferreira, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, drummer Rafael Barata, percussionist Marco Lobo, and others.
Journey to Rio is Jazz Week's highest charting debut this week!
Friday night at Zinc Bar, pianist/composer Roger Davidson led a first-class New York-based Brazilian jazz band in a romp through tunes from his lavish new double cd, Jounrey to Rio, just out from Soundbrush. Davidson has had a lifelong affair with Brazilian music, culminating with a two-week jaunt there where this album was recorded with an all-star cast including saxophonist Marcelo Martins, trombonist Gilmar Ferreira, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo and a multitude of percussion. Davidson alluded that the cast onstage – including David Finck on bass, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Paul Meyers on guitar, plus Ivan Renta on tenor and soprano saxophones, Adriano Santos on drums and Marivaldo doe Santos on percussion.n – would be equally at home playing the compositions, and they were.
At the keys, Davidson favors big block chords, stairstepping chromatics and insistent octaves to anchor the sound, filling a role much like a rhythm guitarist in a rock band. He plays that role strongly and nonchalantly and is generous with solos, allowing plenty of space for contributions from individual members. Bonilla’s rippling, minutely glistening, jeweled attack, rapidfire glissandos and ever-present good humor kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. Renta alternated between balmy tenor lines and jauntily spiraling soprano work over the hypnotic, clave-powered river from the corner with the percussion. Meyers’ nimble, spikily crescendoing solos were as sympatico as his strong, resonant chordal propulsion: he made a smooth but powerful engine to the percussion’s unstoppable wheels.
The funniest moment of the night was Davidson’s one-note samba, where the horns played that note in perfect almost-deadpan unison while Davidson worked equally tongue-in-cheek permutations on a single chord before introducing variations on the theme, such that it was. A couple of duets by Meyers and Davidson provided a summery, sometimes wistful contrast. Bonilla fired off a long shower of sparks that elevated a showy cha-cha above the level of parade-ground theme, while Davidson’s own gleaming, noctnnal work lit up an unexpectedly saturnine, anthemic bossa number, soprano sax trading off with Bonilla’s plaintive resonance. Much as most of the song titles were love songs, an upbeat pulse and warm sixth chords dominated the show, Davidson switched up the moods, somsetimes almost imperceptibly, from song to song. And there was delicious, celebratory cake at the end of the concert, baked for the occasion by Finck’s daughter Olivia. She may have music in her bloodlines but she has a bright future as a pastry chef if she feels like it.
Davidson has also enjoyed great success with klezmer and Balkan music, notably on his previous album On the Road of Life, a collection of originals in those styles. Ultimately, considering how effortlessly he moves between seemingly dissimilar styles, his future may be in writing for film. Somewhere there’s a mystern/adventure narrative set somewhere in the tropics that would benefit magnificently from what Davidson’s been up to lately.
Pianist, American but b. 1952 in Paris, France; has 18 albums since 2000, mostly Brazilian themed although a couple take on other Latin idioms. This was recorded in Rio de Janeiro on his first visit to the country, with Pablo Aslan producing and a raft of Brazilian studio musicians. Marceo Martins offers a few fine sax solos and a lot of flute, which flutters delicately over the piano rhythm -- which no matter the accompaniment is central.
In the liner notes to We Remember Helen, the Roger Davidson Trio’s jazz tribute to Helen Keane (the woman best known for managing pianist Bill Evans), composer Davidson is touted as a man of many and varied musical interests. Check his website; the prolific musician divides his music not only into jazz, but concert music which he sub-divides into orchestral and chamber music, choral music and art songs, klezmer, tango, and Brazilian as well. As if to make sure we don’t forget the latter, the pianist is out this month with Journey to Rio, a new two-disc set of Brazilian music to go along with his four previous CD’s—Brazilian Love Song, Born Dia, Rodgers in Rio, and his album of children’s songs, Bingo.
Davidson put together a stellar cast of Brazilian artists for it—Marcelo Martins (tenor and soprano sax, flute), Gilmar Ferreira (trombone), Leonardo Amuedo (guitar), Sergio Barrozo (acoustic bass), Paulo Braga (drums), and Marco Lobo (percussion). The release also features the electric bass of Ney Conceicao and Rafael Barata on drums on nine of the tracks.
If you like gorgeous, lush melodies played against exotic Latin rhythms, you’ll want to travel along on Davidson’s journey. James Gavin’s liner notes explain, “As always with Roger, melody comes first.” He goes on to cite the composer: “Any music has to start with a good tune.” If nothing else, Davidson has put together an album with 28 fine tunes; each new melody is more infectious than the last.
The set features melancholy love songs like “Love Across Time,” written when he was separating from his wife. Languorous bossa novas like “Moonlight Bossa” and the aching “Sonho do Amor” also appear on the album. There are lively sambas as well as “Memories of Deborah,” a darker memorial to a friend’s wife who died of cancer.
The release also has some songs written in chorinho style, which is a fast, syncopated musical genre that (according to the liner notes) originated in 19th century Rio, to which Davidson adds a touch of ragtime. His “Minha Alegria” sounds like Scott Joplin in Brazil. And through them all, the common thread is striking melody.
Whether he is taking a witty look at classic Antonio Carlos Jobim as he does in “One Samba Note,” or adding some of the flavor of his French roots to the Brazilian spice in tunes like “Embrasse-Moi” and “Je m’en Souviens,” he is intent on stretching the forms—pushing genres in new directions. It is never jarring. These are not radical transformations. At its best, it is innovation with a subtle touch.
D. Oscar Groomes
O's Place Jazz Magazine
O's Notes: Pianist and composer Roger Davidson plays a wide varsity of music including classical, Klezmer, jazz and Latin. He has recorded four Brazilian based albums prior to this release. Journey to Rio celebrates his first visit to Brazil and his 5th bossa nova based recording, a 2-disc set with all original tunes. He is surrounded by some of Rio's finest musicians who help Roger create a warm relaxing set. The best tunes are passionate ballads like "Gateway To Love" featuring Marcelo Martins on tenor sax. There are many more, enough to make you feel like you are on Copacabana sands!
“Brazil may be having political problems now, but bossa nova remains the country's heart and soul—particularly for those who don't live there. Pianist Roger Davidson was down at Zagamusic Studios in Ipanema in October 2011 and recorded a two-CD album—Journey to Rio (Soundbrush)—with Brazilian musicians. It's a perfect recording. You put on both CDs and the next thing you know you're transported to another place and time as the music envelops you.”