In 2012, we started a regular Wednesday night performance series at the venerable Caffe Vivaldi in New York City’s Greenwich Village. This intimate venue was a place where our recording artists could present new material, revisit old material and interact with each other in different musical combinations. The timeless cafe has now become our informal home and what has transpired has been extraordinary. In 2013 we started to record these performances. Here are Soundbrush Records’ artists, anchored by pianist, composer, and Soundbrush founder Roger Davidson, captured in the immediacy of live music making.
Piano, Roger Davidson
Bass, Pablo Aslan
Produced by Alexandra Aron
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Luis Bacque
Photography by Nan Melville
Graphic Design by Marie Coons
Recorded live at Caffe Vivaldi, NYC 2013-14
One of the most lyrical and romantic piansist around, Roger Davidson shows his strengths with bassist Pablo Aslan at a concert at Greenwich Village’s Caffe’ Vivaldi. He combines his own lyrical originals with some latin beauties and a standard thrown in for good measure.
Rich and sensuous dance themes abound; how did the audience stay seated? A lovely lilting “Landini’s Waltz” soons and sways while dramatic tangos such as “Alma Hermosa” and “Adios Isla” evoke aural images of Carlos Gardel. Old world charms weave through side streets on “El Choclo” whle the take of “How Deep Is The Ocean” flows like a linen dress. Aslan picks, plucks and bows as the perfect partner on the dance floor, with Davidson leading through melodious fingerwork a la Ginger and Fred. The only caveat is that the piano sounds a bit bright at times, but not to distraction. Maybe. George W. Harris
A more accessible duo, Roger Davidson on piano and Pablo Aslan on bass, is spotlighted with their February release, Live at Caffe Vivaldi, Volume I. In 2012, Davidson’s Soundbrush Records inaugurated a Wednesday night series at the Greenwich Village Caffe Vivaldi as a safe place for their recording artists to work on new material and develop new ideas. A year later they started recording the performances. Here then, are some of the results. The 11-track set includes eight Davidson original compositions supplemented by Irving Berlin’s classic “How Deep Is the Ocean,” Stelvio Cipriani’s “Anonimo Veneziano,” and Angel Villoldo’s “El Choclo.” Jack Goodstein
For the uncontrived and unalloyed delights of Roger Davidson’s writing, Live at Caffé Vivaldi –Volume 1 is a recital of a rare questing elegance. While our ears have become accustomed, in the course of the long career of pianist Roger Davidson (and bassist Pablo Aslan, I might add), to an even greater degree of the period of Latin sensibility in Mr. Davidson, there are some musicians for whom a lived-in journey of experience provides a fast track to the heart of these emotion-laden works. The matter of artisan’s tools here becomes considerably more than a curiosity, even if one is distinctly aware that the piano and especially the bass encourage distinctive timbral reflexes, such as consistency of colour rather than the variety of intonation of each genre of instruments. Perhaps this music will appear a little unfamiliar to younger listeners, since both Mr. Davidson and Mr. Aslan are no observant mannerists and at times even anti-stylist. Certainly, while the music here is deeply emotional there is not a drip of sentimentality. In fact, the music of Roger Davidson, in all its diversity and passion appears to have an unstoppable momentum in the symbiotic and dancing relationship that the composer enjoys with his rather familiar musical cohort, Pablo Aslan.
roger-davidson-pablo-aslan-live-at-caffe-vivaldi-cvr-fnlThis highly entertaining and gripping recording, crisply executed by Mr. Davidson and Mr. Aslan has an energy, drive and polish entirely apt for the compelling adventure that takes place at Caffé Vivaldi. Its brilliant orchestration is echoed in the simpler yet evocative tangos and waltzes, pieces that echo highly popular times in the Latin America of an era gone by. Although this is not a sign that they are old fashioned, there is something rather moving about the black-and-white hue of these arrangements and the era which inspired them. The playing is especially brilliant throughout, but here more poignant in the pizzicato and splendid con arco playing of Mr. Aslan when Mr. Davidson comps behind him. In “Adiós Dolor” and “Landini’s Waltz” for instance, that kind of playing falls most happily into that rich, optimistic vein of music for piano and bass, for which it is so well endowed. Its rhythmical character, which is played here with a dynamic precision, and sweeping dimension for duo has an attractive modern edge redolent of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos especially in the outer movements. This can also be said of the later pieces, the splendidly colourful “Amantes para Siempre” and “Two Hearts in One” which appear to be rather like little sinfoniettas in their fuller orchestration.
The judicious loops in and out of the dialogue of piano and bass take a patrician distance in the profoundly moving “Anónimo Veneziano” and this is almost unbearably poignant, while encouraging the robust bassist to muscle in on the action especially in the finale of the piece. The ubiquitous standards are stripped of their formulaic signposts: the curvature of Mr. Davidson’s original compositions has never sounded so effortless—and yet he identifies only with what pleases him in the gestural world of duets with his favourite bassist. This performance is a masterclass on all levels. Raul de Gama
There's a tiny, intimate spot in New York's Greenwich Village called Caffé Vivaldi, where this duo began a Wednesday night performance series in 2012. This CD is the result of many nights of recorded material and musical experimentation. Davidson is a composer and used this recording to introduce his original compositions. They make up eight of the eleven tunes. It's a lovely, Chamber music presentation of Davidson's composer talents and an easy-to-listen-to bass and piano concert. Dee Dee O'Neill
Dee Dee McNeil
ROGER DAVIDSON & PABLO ASLAN/Live at Caffe Vivaldi V. 1: For those of you that like records that aren’t record records, here an international piano bass duo captured live in Greenwich Village. What could be more at home than that? Intimate, personal and certainly up close, this duo hits the nail on the head as they work thought Davidson’s canon. Slip some exotic flavors in the Keurig, put this on and you have a night own in your own home. Check it out.
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
JazzQuad (In Russia) By Leonid Auskern
READ REVIEW IN RUSSIAN HERE
"American pianist Roger Davidson is not only a talented musician but a creative person who is able to transfer his ideas into life. He is the founder of the Soundbrush Records label, which became home for many exceptional musicians. In the year 2000, Davidson organized the Society of Universal Sacred Music, which supported and released of sacred music from many persuasions. Also, it organized five festivals of universal sacred music.
In 2012, he initiated weekly evening concerts at the Caffe Vivaldi, located in Greenwich Village, a famous bohemian New York neighborhood. Since 2013, Soundbrush records has begun releasing records of those concerts. This album in particular, is associated with this series.
The album includes recordings of duets of Roger Davidson and Pablo Aslan, made at these concerts. Roger’s partner, bassist Pablo Aslan is Argentina-born. Highly demanded musician, he has recorded and performed with many famous musicians, such as Joe Lovano, Yo Yo Ma, and Lalo Schifrin. But the main subject of his creative interest is his country’s trademark music - Argentinean tango and its' modern interpretation, Nueva Tango. This is the hidden key to musicians’ mutual interest and level of comfort during performances.
As a pianist, Roger Davidson is highly versatile. As soon as you download “Life at Cafe Vivaldi” into your player, you will appreciate the tenderness of classic touche, which reveals a serious academic background. Not limited with classics, Roger plays straight ahead jazz, klezmer and kids' music with no less success. A special part of his repertoire (according to his extensive recordings list), is taken by tango and Latino music in general.
No doubts, Latino prevails in this record. With true feeling and an undeniable mastery, Roger and Pablo play such Davidson’s tunes as “Alma Hermosa”, “Amantes Para Sempre”, “Adios Isla”, or Angel Villoldo’s famous “El Choclo”. Although, program contains, let's say, Landini's “Waltz” or classical jazz standards like “How Deep is the Ocean” by Irving Berlin. Most importantly, whatever Roger and Pablo perform it literally radiates real passion to music. I believe that this feeling can be directed towards potential listeners of the “Life at Caffe Vivaldi”.
Il Caffé Vivaldi è una venerabile istituzione di New York. Ogni mercoledì notte a partire dal 2012 Roger Davidson, pianista americano, e Pablo Aslan, contrabbassista argentino,hanno tenuto dei concerti con altri musicisti del loro giro, così che alla fine questo luogo è quasi diventato la loro seconda casa. Si è deciso anche di registrare, di fermare il flusso della musica su un supporto al fine di riascoltare quello che era successo durante quelle sere e successivamente di pubblicarne il risultato.. Il pianoforte di Davidson è affascinante, ricco di quel calore e passionalità tipica del tango, in ciò è sostenuto perfettamente da Aslan, un contrabbassista che ha fatto molte incisioni nel genere. Non manca un famoso standard, How Deep Is the Ocean, ma suonato evitando di immettervi troppo swing, più guardando al tango che al jazz. Alcuni brani sono particolarmente riusciti:Adios Dolor, Alma Hermosa, Amantes Para Sempre trasmettono la malinconia del tango e ipnotizzano l´ascoltatore. C´è anche la melodia di Anonimo Veneziano, scritta da Stelvio Cipriani per il famoso film. La filosofia musicale di Davidson si esterna con suadenza di intenti, tutto procede tranquillo, tra ritmi di tango (da non dimenticare il famoso El Choclo introdotto dal contrabbasso in pizzicato di Aslan) o di walzer (Triangle Waltz), alla ricerca dell´attimo magico che inchioda il pubblico. Ci riesce perfettamente: questo è uno di quei dischi che ha tutte le qualità per indurre chi ascolta a farlo girare spesso fra le sue musiche preferite. Vittorio Lo Conte
A Roger Davidson (zongora) és Pablo Aslan (nagybőgő) alkotta kettős is egy stúdión kívüli helyszínt választott a lemezanyaguk rögzítéséhez. Az ő választásuk egy kávézóra esett, amelynek a nevét még a friss lemezük címében is szerepeltetnek: Live At Caffe Vivaldi Vol 1. A latin zene jegyében fogant album repertoárját Davidson saját töltik meg. Néhány kivételt csak az olyan örökzöldek jelentik, mint pl. a „How Deep Is The Ocean” (Irwing Berlin), amelyek átdolgozott változatban kerültek a lemezre.
Aki egyaránt szereti a vérpezsdítő és az andalító latin dallamokat az számos kedvenc melódiát találhat magának ezen az albumon.
Az albumon található számok listája: Adios Dolor; How Deep is the Ocean; Alma Hermosa; Landini’s Waltz; Amantes para Sempre; Anónimo Veneziano; Triangle Waltz; Thirdland; Two Hearts in One; Adios Isla; El Choclo.