Live at Caffe Vivaldi Volume 1

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

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By Scott Yanow

Roger Davidson is an eclectic pianist who in his career thus far has explored several different idioms of music. Live At Caffe Vivaldi, Volume 1, a set of duets with bassist Pablo Aslan, finds him emphasizing tangos and Latin-flavored jazz, all of it played with spirit, drama and the feeling of romance. Davidson, who turns 63 this year, started playing piano when he was four. He was classically trained on both violin and piano. Although his college degree was in German Language and Asian Studies, he earned Masters degrees in composition and choral conducting. While he began his career in classical music, Davidson loved jazz and displayed a real feeling for improvisation. He was mentored by Helen Keane (Bill Evans’ manager) and had opportunities at workshops to study with Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. Since that time, Roger Davidson has been involved in a wide variety of musical styles. In 1982 he wrote Unispace for choir, organ, piano and percussion. He has composed and recorded sacred music. His Soundbrush label contains not only his recordings of symphonic, chamber and choral pieces but jazz projects, Klezmer, children’s music, Brazilian jazz, spiritual music and a solo piano set which could be considered New Age. Pablo Aslan was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, mastered the bass, and settled in New York. A leader at mixing together tangos with modern jazz, Aslan has co-led the New York Tango Trio and the New York/Buenos Aires Connection, and he has worked with Paquito D’Rivera, Lalo Schifrin, Joe Lovano and Gary Burton. He considers the late Astor Piazzolla to be his inspiration. Aslan has worked with Davidson on many prior occasions, producing over a dozen albums for the pianist’s Soundbrush label. Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume 1 consists of eight Davidson originals, the standard “How Deep Is The Ocean” and two other pieces. Davidson and Aslan make a perfect match. The pianist displays restrained virtuosity while embracing the very romantic themes. Aslan sometimes recalls the great Cuban bassist Cachao in his rhythmic yet thoughtful playing, his constant commentary behind the piano solos, and his ease at switching between pizzicato and bowing. Aslan keeps the music a little unpredictable, sometimes bowing during the ensembles and playing pizzicato during his solos, the opposite of what one would expect. This set begins with the gorgeous “Adios Dolor” which has an exquisite melody, creative yet always melodic piano and bass solos, and superior interplay between the two musicians. As with nearly all of this music, there is an understated tango rhythm felt throughout the performance. “How Deep Is The Ocean” features the duo applying their jazz tango approach to a vintage song, adding bit of wit to the music. The other selections, which include a few waltzes, all have strong themes, are taken at a medium-slow pace, are quite danceable, and are full of dramatic moments. “Thirdland” finds the musicians exploring a complex set of chord changes a bit reminiscent of “Giant Steps.” “Two Hearts In One” has a heartbreaking melody accentuated by the downward progression in the chord structure. The last two numbers, “Adios Isla” and “El Choclo,” are joyful and hint at both ragtime and early Cuban music. Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume 1 is a delight that makes one look forward to Volume 2.


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


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


"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, Nuevo 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


Gondola (Hungary)

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.


Below you can Play samples from the CD.

Alma Hermosa

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Adios Dolor

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