Pianist Roger Davidson is 'Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume #3' on Soundbrush Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Apr 27, 2016 05:04 PM EDT
Roger Davidson Roger Davidson is 'Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume #3.' (Photo : courtesy Jazz Promo Services)

When pianist/composer Roger Davidson wraps his fingers around "I Love You," written by Cole Porter for the 1944 Broadway musical Mexican Hayride but popularized by Bing Crosby, it's a sterling moment in time. Davidson has a knack for the romantic. His cover of Joseph Kosma's 1945 "Autumn Leaves" ends Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume #3 (Soundbrush Records) on a similar misty-eyed note. But it's his 14 originals that reek of inventive samba stylings that carry this project of solo piano.

The crowd at Caffe Vivaldi in New York City's Greenwich Village is properly hushed. You can hear the proverbial pin drop, along with the clink of ice cubes. But nobody's coughing. Nobody's talking. They seem enraptured by what Roger's laying down.

This Renaissance Man is most known for his classical piano. Man, it must be culture shock to go from Chopin's etudes to jazz, but Davidson-whose 20-CD catalog includes work with chamber orchestras, symphonic orchestras and chorales amid a myriad of genres including tango, Klezmer, children's music and Latin-seems to embrace it all. As he says in the liner notes, "music is for the world." He's also the author of two songbooks: To Brazil With Love (2015) and Saudade do Brasil (due later this year). He's currently writing a third book based on country dance music inspired by the British Isles.

There's more than just a hint of the great Bill Evans [1929-1980] in his piano playing. His jazz debut was produced by Evans' longtime manager Helen Keane who has mentored him away from the highbrow stuff into jazz. For that, this old jazzbo journalist is forever grateful.

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TagsRoger Davidson, REVIEW, Soundbrush Records, Cole Porter

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