In Bom Dia (Portuguese for “good day”), pianist and composer Roger Davidson sets his own songs to a wide range of samba rhythm, from the expansive, percussive Carnaval style to the intimate whisper of bossa nova. Featuring Brazilian master drummer Paulo Braga and the exceptional David Finck on bass, Bom Dia is Davidson’s love letter to Brazil.
Roger Davidson, piano, compositions
Aaron Heick, sax
David Finck, bass
Paulo Braga, drums
Marivaldo Dos Santos, percussion
JazzTimes - August 2008
Bright and breezy as a tropical daydream, the 11 original bossa novas and sambas on pianist Roger Davidson’s latest release recall the sophisticated early days of small-group Brazilian jazz. Davidson’s expert touch is especially evident in the solo “Soir Bresilien,” a gentle, paper-fragile wisp, while bassist David Finck provides accents of sunshine throughout. Paulo Braga on drums and guest percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos keep the music delightfully rooted in the Bahian sun, as on the deliciously unpretentious title track.
Forrest Dylan Bryant
Town & Village
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Composer and pianist Roger Davidson is a versatile musician with eclectic tastes. He has conducted a chamber orchestra and written classical music as well as jazz and world music. As a jazz pianist, he is drawn to Latin American sounds. His latest album is titled "Bom Dia" (which means "good day" in... Portuguese) and is a follow-up (on Soundbrush Records) to his equally enjoyable albums, "Rogers in Rio" (setting Richard Rogers'€™ tunes to a samba beat) and "Amor Por el Tango" ("love for the tango").
"Bom Dia" contains eleven original compositions recorded with a first-class trio: David Finck (bass) and Paulo Brago (drums) with special guest Marivaldo dos Santos on percussion. Davidson´s tunes are immediately engaging and the musicians breeze through most of them, slowing down for the melancholy ballads.
His own style is swinging and lyrical. The titles are a giveaway of the mood: "Ela Me Ama" (She Loves Me) is upbeat while "Eu Sinto Saudade Dela" (I Miss Her) and "Tristezas do Amor" (Love´s Sadness) are downbeat. The music is more subtle than the titles "Contemplacao" (Contemplation) features a lovely bass solo with bow by Finck, while "Samba para Minhas Criancas" has a lively plucked bass solo. This is an album that is perfect to unwind with after a hard day´s work.
One June 25, Davidson will perform with his trio at Iridium Jazz Club (1650 Broadway '€“ 212-582-2121).
- Barry Bassis
All Music Review
If you enjoy instrumental Brazilian music played with passion, skill, and literacy, you've come to the right place with pianist Roger Davidson's Bom Dia. An extraordinary player and composer with classical training and plenty of jazz chops, Davidson is joined by bassist David Finck and the exceptional Brazilian drummer Paolo Braga, breezing through a full set of the pianist's original compositions, all with a fresh yet traditional approach to the sunshine and sensual happiness so extant in samba and bossa nova music. There's nothing lazy or complacent in Davidson's approach, as he's reaching for the inner soul, warm depth, and laid-back experience that makes the Brazilian lifestyle unique. Of the more energetic numbers, the quick "Fabiana," hard Carnival-time dance accents on the title track, and lively refrains of "Ela Me Ama" reflect the party season in Rio. In a more jazzy tone is "Samba Para Minas Criancas," which acknowledges the styles of both a vibrant Marcos Valle and a bouncy Chick Corea, while two-fisted chords, limber and joyous, identify "I Remember Your Smile." The program goes in and out of love, despair, bittersweet finality, hope, and finally redemption. This is achieved via the inserted serene, contemplative, and graceful numbers programmed opposite the upbeat tunes, and as such works in a single listening session. Davidson is on top of his game throughout, Finck is virtually flawless, and Braga is, simply put, a precise and congenial rhythmic master and spell caster. A recording that is easily recommended, it is likely Davidson's finest in a relatively obscure but substantive multifaceted music career.
- Michael G. Nastos
Jazz & Blues Report - June 2008 • Issue 305
Roger Davidson, a versatile acoustic pianist, delivers a delightful 11-tune set of lyrical Brazilian jazz originals with bassist David Finck, drummer Paulo Braga, and special guest Marivaldo Dos Santos on percussion. Together, these musicians work flawlessly. Davidson’s appealing original tunes (ranging from 2:15 to 6:03 minutes for a total of 46:58) transmit warm, cheerful melodies between samba and bossa nova, and show off his keyboard expertise. Braga and Finck are first- call musicians who have worked with top-name leaders and are adept at interpreting Davidson’s Brazilian themes. One of the prettiest tunes is “Contemplacao (Contemplation),” which contains a lovely bowed bass solo by Finck. Finck shines again with his plucked solo on “Samba para Minhas Criancas (Samba for My Children).” Davidson is a versatile composer whose works include symphony, chamber, jazz and world music. Born in Paris in 1952 to a French mother and American father, Davidson moved as an infant with his family to New York City and has lived most of his life in the northeastern USA. He earned a Master’s degree in composition from Boston University in the 1970s and a Master’s in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. After spending some time in Germany, he returned to Boston where he led a chamber orchestra, wrote sacred choral music and taught. The late Bill Evans and other jazz pianists who swing passionately with a strong lyrical sense inspired Davidson. Bom Dia (in Portuguese means “Good Day”) is a unique piano trio album that follows Davidson’s 2005 album, Rodgers In Rio, which adapted Richard Rodgers tunes in bossa nova settings with Finck and Braga. Up- dating the advent of small-group Brazilian jazz, this new project is a laid-back, enjoyable listen from start to finish.
Nancy Ann Lee
Davidson is the kind of cat that knows his stuff and has plaid his dues so you have to give him some when he steps up. This time out, he comes in with a set of original Brazilian music--not bad for a Boston cat. With authentic hitters lending a hand, he fashions a fine outing that should be played anytime some samba is needed in the air. Well done adult listening.
Volume 31/Number 154
April 2, 2008
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Composer and pianist Roger Davidson has long had a passion for Latin music devoting previous recordings to tango, bolero and bossa nova styles. With “Bom Dia,” (Portuguese for good day) he settles in on a full range of samba and bossa rhythms on eleven original compositions recorded with a first-class piano trio. The music is by and large light Brazilian jazz employing similar texture and arrangements with no heavy pulsating beats to worry about.
Davidson enlists a fine cast of musicians that include legendary Brazilian drummer Paulo Braga and first-call bassist David Finck who comprise the core trio. Also appearing here as special guest is Bahia-born New York percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos.
The majority of the recording falls nicely within the soft romantic bossa nova flavor one would expect from a Brazilian style album. Davidson goes solo on the short and sweet number entitled “Soir Bresilien.” He then leads his trio with light touches on the keys supported by sweet brush strokes from Braga on such tunes as “Tristezas do Amor,” “Eu Sinto Saudade Dela,” “Contemplacao” and “Patient Soul.”
Changing approach to showcase the much quicker samba influences, Davidson turns lively on the title tune, “Ela Me Ama,” the carnival-like “Samba para Minhas Criancas” and the spicy finale of “Abia.”
If you love Brazilian jazz and can appreciate the softer side of the genre, then Roger Davidson’s “Bom Dia” will be more than a pleasurable listen and sure to deliver one very “good day” of music. With an excellent command of samba and bossa jazz. Roger Davidson continues his journey into the genre with another very impressive outing.
By: Edward Blanco
A Good Day (Bom Dia) indeed when creative and tasteful veteran pianist Rodger Davidson releases a new album of all original music meant to recall the late '50s/early '60s small group bossa nova Brazilian jazz. With legendary Brazilian drummer Paulo Braga, exceptional bassist David Finck and percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos (on several tracks), Davidson follows up his 2005 setting of Richard Rodgers standards to bossa ("Rodgers in Rio") with an enjoyable jaunt down Bahia way.
The toe-tapping "Fabiana" introduces the album in high-stepping fashion with Davidson showing the clean lines and traditional-mindedness that is the hallmark of his work. These songs sometimes sound like songs you think you may have heard before, but will suddenly take a different direction that is entirely Davidson’s own, where the Brazilian influence is joined by Paris (Davidson is French born) and Broadway and even some classical touches ("Soir Brersilien"). The much-in-demand Finck provides a chewy solo here to compliment his graceful bandleader, a pattern that is repeated several times on this album.
This clean, warm and well balanced recording makes for a treat for the ears. Uptempo numbers like the title track, "Ela Me Ama," "Samba Para Minhas Criancas" and "Abia" alternate with sultry romantic pieces like "Tristezas Do Amor" "Eu Sinto Saudad Dela," "Contemplacao" "Patient Soul" and "I Remember Your Smile," taking the listener from the boisterous Carnival to the dreamy nightclub, from the sunshine to the shade, and it is a truly pleasant and addictive experience that will bring the feel of a good day to a tired and weary soul.
Review by Brad Walseth
For a guy who had a French and American parents, and has spent most of his time living in the northeast US, pianist Roger Davidson has put out an amazing catalogue of South American music. From 2005’s “Rodgers in Rio” to last year’s “Pensando a Ti”, he is able to apply a veracity to his composing and playing style that is second to none. His latest release, which adds the subtle percussion of Marivaldo Dos Santos, is another collection of originals that holds up to anything written by the likes of Gil, Regina and Jobim, which makes sense, since he’s played with all of them. His touch is warm and dark, and fits in nicely with bassist David Finck and drummer Paulo Braga on tunes like the buoyant “Fabiana” and caroming title piece. Davidson’s touch is most apparent on the solo piece “Soir Bresilien” which exudes the depth and confidence of a veteran tango dancer. As with the Great American Songbook, the great Bossa songbook is given a well deserved rest on this disc, and the freshness is palpable.
By George W. Harris
For those of you who enjoy instrumental Brazilian music played with passion, skill and literacy, you've come to the right place on pianist Roger Davidson's Bom Dia. An extraordinary player and composer, with classical training and plenty of jazz chops, Davidson, bassist David Finck and the exceptional Brazilian drummer Paolo Braga breeze through a full set of the pianist's original compositions, all with a fresh yet traditional approach to the sunshine and sensual happiness so extant in samba and bossa nova music. There's nothing lazy or complacent with Davidson's approach, as he's reaching for the inner soul, warm depth and laid back experience that makes the Brazilian lifestyle unique. Of the more energetic numbers, the quick "Fabiana," hard Carnival-time dance accents on the title track, and lively refrains of "Ela Me Ama" reflect the party season in Rio. In a more jazzy tone is the "Samba Para Minas Criancas" which acknowledges the styles of both a vibrant Marcos Valle or bouncy Chick Corea, while two-fisted chords, limber and joyous, identify "I Remember Your Smile." The program goes in and out of love, despair, bittersweet finality, hope and finally redemption. This is achieved via the inserted serene, contemplative and graceful numbers programmed opposite the upbeat tunes, and as such works in a single listening session. Davidson is on top of his game throughout, Finck is virtually flawless, and Braga is, simply put, a precise and congenial rhythmi
This CD updates a fabled moment in musical history: the birth of small-group Brazilian jazz. It happened in the late ‘50s, when a string of hip clubs in Rio’s Zona Sul (the beach area) offered an effervescent new sound, known as bossa nova. The music took flight when the sun went down: a sensual, pulsing style, rooted in the aggressive rhythms of samba but softened by the influence of cool jazz. It traveled to America around 1962 and revolutionized jazz, inspiring such milestone albums as Stan Getz’s Jazz Samba.
The Getz recordings were composer-pianist Roger Davidson’s introduction to the music of Brazil. He heard them as a boy in New York, and they stayed in his mind long after he had begun traveling through the U.S. and Europe to study classical music. By the late ‘70s Roger was based in Boston, where he led a celebrated chamber orchestra; wrote sacred choral music, a specialty of his; and taught. Since then he has blossomed into a composer of sprawling versatility. Besides choral works, Roger’s catalogue includes a broad array of symphony, chamber, jazz, and world music. Amid the last category, his passion for Latin music burns the brightest, hence his recent albums devoted to tango, bolero, and bossa nova.
In all cases, he gave these familiar styles a new twist. On his 2005 album Rodgers in Rio, he set Richard Rodgers standards in bossa settings, led by his tuneful, jazz-inspired piano playing. Now, in Bom Dia (Portuguese for “good day”), Roger weds his own songs to a full range of samba rhythms, from the percussive Carnaval style to the delicate murmur of the bossa nova. “Brazilian music has been a really strong interest of mine for a long time,” he explains. “It’s music that’s very relaxing; I feel like I’m on vacation every time I play it. It’s also danceable, and has great rhythm that no other music does.”
Brazil, of course, has produced a strong percentage of the world’s most bewitching tunes – another attraction for Roger, whose work in all categories reveals his love for melody. This is no academic modern composer writing over anyone’s head; even without words, the message of his music is clear.
So is the rapport among him and his three musicians. Two of them joined him on Rodgers in Rio, and he couldn’t have found better. David Finck is an American bassist whose mastery knows few barriers; Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Linda Eder, George Michael, and Andre Previn have all benefited from David’s precise pitch, swinging time, and impeccable taste. He’s also a Brazilian specialist who has played with many of the country’s giants, including Cesar Camargo Mariano, Ivan Lins, and Leny Andrade. Roger has used him on almost all his Latin and jazz recordings since 1991. “He’s the best bassist-collaborator that I could imagine. He’s got consistently great rhythm, and he’s extremely alert to every nuance that I’m playing, so I always feel that he’s right with me.”
Since the ‘70s, Paulo Braga has been known as one of the innovators of modern Brazilian drumming, with a command that bridges samba, bossa nova, and jazz. Born in Minas Gerais, Paulo has played for a long line of Brazilian royalty, notably Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, and his maestro for fifteen years, Antônio Carlos Jobim. In 1995 he moved from Rio to New York, where he was hired by some of the biggest names in jazz (Joe Henderson, Randy Brecker, and Pat Metheny, to name a few) as well as Yo-Yo Ma (on the acclaimed CD Obrigado Brazil). Just before he returned to Rio in 2005, Paulo accompanied Roger on this CD. “He’s a great musician, and a lot of fun,” says Roger. “He gives the best support, and he made the tunes sound even more Brazilian than they otherwise might have.”
On many tracks you’ll also hear the subtle accents of Marivaldo dos Santos, a Bahia-born, New York-based percussionist, composer, and capoeira dancer. At this writing, dos Santos is appearing off-Broadway in Stomp.
The band followed no strict arrangements; they played from lead sheets, “and we made the arrangements in the studio as we went along,” Roger says. Fabiana has a breezy sound that lies somewhere between samba and bossa nova; Roger improvises several tuneful choruses and spotlights David Finck as well. “Fabiana is not anyone I know, it’s just an imaginary person,” Roger explains. “I didn’t have a title for the tune before I wrote it, and for some intuitive reason the name Fabiana came to mind. I asked my Brazilian friends, ‘Is this a Brazilian name?’ They said, ‘There are lots of Fabianas in Brazil.’”
Soir Bresilien (Brazilian Night) is a ruminative and very prettypiano solo; its title reflects the family heritage of a composer who was born in Paris to a French mother and an American father. “French is my second language,” says Roger. “Sometimes I think of titles in French, even for Brazilian tunes. The French title seemed to fit the mood of the piece better.” Paulo Braga gives Bom Dia the sound of a traditional Carnaval samba, a form as intoxication as a drug.“I was setting out to write a lively tune,” says Roger, “and this is the melody that came to me. It was influenced, actually, by playing with David Finck. I heard a couple of his tunes, and I was inspired by his music.”
Tristeza de Amor (Love’s Sadness) falls under the heading of samba-canção, a mournful type of samba ballad. It brings out Roger’s most delicate soloing. “I was in a melancholy mood one day and I was thinking about the sadness that comes from being in love, that I know everyone experiences. I wanted to express that in music. But the tune is not entirely sad; it’s also meant to have hope. That hope is beautifully expressed at the end, when it goes from G-minor to G-major, and happiness is once again felt.”
Saudade is a pivotal word in Brazilian song; it connotes a bittersweet longing for something that isn’t there. Eu me sinto saudade dela (I Miss Her) is also in the style of samba-canção. “I was thinking about how I feel when I’m apart from somebody I love, or when anyone’s apart from somebody they love,” Roger says. Ela me ama (She Loves Me) banishes all melancholy with its sparkling samba rhythms and catchy tune. “The title explains itself,” explains the composer. “The feeling of somebody loving you.” Contemplação (Contemplation) is “a kind of meditation,” he says, with an elegantly bowed solo by David Finck.
In Samba para Minhas Criancas (Samba for My Children), Roger matches the playfulness of a children’s song with the exultation of the samba. “I actually wrote it when my children were dancing around the living room. They wanted to hear a samba because they knew that I’d been playing sambas, I’d been improvising them. They said, ‘Daddy, play a samba.’ I did, and this is the tune that came out.”
Patient Soul is another moody reflection, marked by David’s and Roger’s most lyrical improvising. “I was thinking about how much patience I have to have sometimes to go through difficulties in life,” Roger says. I Remember Your Smile unleashes his most passionate playing. The song reminded him, after he wrote it, of someone’s “nice smile.” Abia is the name of an old family friend from Brazil. It’s a showcase for Paulo Braga’s lustiest samba drumming, set against a memorable theme. Roger’s billowy piano playing draws the band into a festive groove.
NEW PARAGRAPH BY JIM.
-- James Gavin, New York City, 2007
[James Gavin, the author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, is writing a biography of Lena Horne for Simon & Schuster.]