Three things occupy the mind of Roger Davidson: spirituality, the romance of music, and Brasil. This might not necessarily be in that order but certainly Oração para Amanhã, One God, One World, and Universal Sacred Music for Chorus and Missa Universalis suggest that the veracity of that fact is beyond reproach. It bears mention that on the latter three albums Davidson focusses almost exclusively on the sacred elements of music. Remarkably, however, on Oração para Amanhã all the sources of his inspiration come together in a wonderful fashion.
Roger Davidson has written all of the music for Oração para Amanhã. He usually writes most if not all his music. Davidson is a fine composer, whose work is deceptively simple: melodies with almost linear, lyrical lines flowing one into the other, like ripples chasing each other in a pond after the stone has caused a stir. Arrangements are also simple, seemingly suggested more than written note after note, after note. Rhythms are not wildly challenging, perhaps the only drawback of his compositions. But Davidson is too clever to let the pulse of his music get dreary. To stay on top of things he employs the finest virtuoso musicians – on Oração para Amanhã
I think that the absence of a Brasilian percussion to augment Santos’ battery of drums is further proof of the elasticity of Davidson’s rhythms. Santos more than takes care of business in that department. Eduardo Belo is a fine bassist who brings the deepest tonal colours to life with the visual and especially tactile quality of a velvet surface through intertwined threads, strands, or the like, that make up a marvellous canvas. And Hendrik Meurkens drives the melodies, transforming them into something quite magical, whether he is working them on his vibraphone or his chromatic harmonica. However, make no mistake: this is Roger Davidson’s album from start to finish and what a fine album it is indeed.
Track list – 1: September Samba; 2: Sonho da Tarde; 3: Oração para Amanhã; 4: Rio de Janeiro; 5: Saudades; 6: Tarde Sonhadora; 6: Amor Brasileiro; 7: O Trem da Vida; 8: Saudade do Brasil; 9: A Escada; 10: Três Estrelas; 11: O Verão.
Personnel – Roger Davidson: piano and producer; Eduardo Belo: bass; Adriano Santos: drums; Hendrik Meurkens: vibraphone and harmonica; Pablo Aslan: additional artistic production; Luis Bacque: recording, mixing and mastering engineer.
Released – 2017
Label – Soundbrush Records
Run time – 1:01:17
Rique Pantoja: Live in Los Angeles
The West Coast of the United States has had a rather long – and celebrated – association with the music of Brasil. Rique Pantoja is tapping into the Brasilliance on his Live in Los Angeles album. Moacir Santos created by far the greatest series music when he moved to Pasadena, California from Brasil in 1967. He quickly began turning heads with his spectacular take on the lineage of the [post bebop] cool, melding it with the music of his home-state, Pernambuco, in his very singular mix of other dance forms from Brasil. Other influential Brasilian musicians whose artistry collided with West Coast Cool were Cesar Camargo Mariano, Airto and Flora Purim [when she was there once upon a time] to name a few Brasilians who influenced the North American West Coast sound.
Rique Pantoja, by virtue of his extraordinary musicianship, his long-limbed compositions that seem to roll along with their exquisite, naturally danceable rhythms, can also lay claim to this august line of musicians. His music, captured on this beautifully-recorded album seems to express the sheer joy – the alegria – of being alive and in love. The composer [and pianist] seems to indulge fully his predisposition for dreamscapes as he is on stage, allowing the lyrical saxophonist [and flutist] Steve Tavaglione to stretch and take extraordinary melodic and harmonic excursions with winding, lyrical lines of his own seemingly intoxicated by the enraptured emotions ensconced in the music.
The pianist’s poetic fantasies – such as we listen to on “Da Baiana” – evoke images of voluptuous eloquence in the form of a sultry, baiana, rhythmically hip-swishing her way down along fine white sand of the Coconut Coast in Bahia. With rippling keyboard grooves, Mr Pantoja conjures vivid, lifelike imagery of surf beating around us, while Mr Tavaglione’s flute, with cascading lines from the guitar of Ricardo Silveira wail and moan and whistle melodically. Meanwhile the percussionist – Cassio Duarte – and drummer Joel Taylor – re-create the sizzle and steamy seduction of baiana’s rolling rhythm along with the deep rumble of the bass played with extraordinary facility by Jimmy Earl.
“Arpoador” is one of the finest songs on the album that had already mesmerised the audience with its tintinnabulation of the keyboards introducing the opening strains of Mr Pantoja’s magical and mystical song. Even under the Brasilliance of “1000 Watts” the audience seems to be under the hypnotic spell of the music from then on… a spell that is only broken when Rique Pantoja and this marvelous ensemble gently awaken them with the balladic – and balletic – aural dreamscape of “Pra Lili”, to close a beautiful set that offers an astonishing insight into Mr Pantoja’s artistic conception.
Tracks – 1: Arpoador; 2: Julinho; 3: 1000 Watts; 4: Da Baiana; 5: Bebop Kid; 6: Que Loucura; 7: Morena; 8: Pra Lili
Musicians – Ricardo Silveira: guitar; Steve Tavaglione: saxophones and flute; Rique Pantoja: keyboards and vocals; Jimmy Earl: bass; Joel Taylor: drums; Cassio Duarte: percussion
Released – 2022
Label – Moondo Music [MDO-2022
Runtime – 1:08:13
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