For Roger Davidson, music is a world without boundaries. Though commonly termed a classical artist, Roger has developed a fearlessly eclectic reach, both as a composer and pianist. “Music is for the world,” says Roger, whose acclaimed catalog ranges from chamber, symphonic, and choral pieces to jazz, tango, Klezmer, children’s music, a wide span of Latin and Brazilian projects, and most recently, a Solo Piano project – Temple of the Soul: Rhapsodies and Meditations for Solo Piano – an adventurous and spiritual album that bridges the next stage of his life, and leans more toward Contemporary Instrumental/New Age piano than any of the genres for which he is previously known.
Michael G. Nastos of All Music Guide termed him an “extraordinary” pianist devoted to “reaching for the inner soul.” His remarkable flair for melody helps him cross stylistic lines with ease, which is apparent in Temple of the Soul. Roger says this, more than any previous album, embraces his musical past and merges it with his ongoing passion for Sacred Music, which manifested in 1982 with Unispace (for choir, organ, piano, and percussion), inspired by a United Nations conference of the same name on the peaceful uses of outer space. His Sacred Music recordings include One God, One World and Missa Universalis (Soundbrush Records), both of which include choral works representing the beginnings of what he later termed “Universal Sacred Music.”
In 2000, Roger created the Society for Universal Sacred Music (SUSM) as part of his lifelong commitment to creating a repertoire of sacred music that celebrates the unity and unconditional love of God. The Society has commissioned, performed and recorded over 50 works, and organized five Festivals of Universal Sacred Music, featuring performers and composers from around the world.
Cross-cultural celebration is the theme of Soundbrush Records, the celebrated company that Roger founded. He has developed an impressive roster of hand-picked musicians from around the world and a rich, diverse catalogue including tango master Raúl Jaurena, whose 2007 Soundbrush release, Te Amo Tango, won a Latin GRAMMY®. Soundbrush is also the home of many of Roger’s eighteen albums including the recent Journey to Rio, a double-CD of his Brazilian compositions, recorded in Rio de Janeiro with a band of top-flight Brazilian players and produced by Pablo Aslan, the gifted Argentine bassist and bandleader.
International co-mingling is in Roger’s blood. He was born in Paris in 1952 to a French mother and an American father; when he was one year old, the family moved to New York. He started playing piano at four, and taking violin lessons at eight. He has studied at St. Olaf College, earning a B.A. in German Language and Asian Studies in 1974, at Boston University where he earned a master’s degree in composition in 1980, and then – at the suggestion of early baroque music scholar Sidney Beck – Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where Roger began writing choral music and earned a master’s degree in choral conducting in 1985. In 1983 and ‘84, Roger took his first steps toward a professional jazz career when he twice attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University in California, studying under visiting teachers Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie. As a jazz pianist, Roger went on to be mentored by Helen Keane, who later produced his first jazz album, and to whom he dedicated the tribute album We Remember Helen (2012). JazzTimes has since called him an “impeccable player.”
“It’s been a great blessing that I’ve been able to do so many things well, and that they feel natural, as part of the global musical vocabulary I’ve developed,” Roger says. “I feel a lot of empathy for all kinds of good music – music that really comes from the heart and that seeks to communicate passion and positive feelings.”
In 2013, Roger produced and recorded his first solo piano album, Temple of the Soul: Rhapsodies and Meditations for Solo Piano (2014), on an impeccably-restored Steinway at the studio of two-time Grammy®-winner Adam Abeshouse. Roger maintains that this album is not a diversion from other genres, but rather a forward-moving culmination of his inspirations, lifelong studies, world-wide collaborations, and interest in Sacred Music. In a way, it may very well be a holistic stepping-stone to the next stage of Roger’s life as an ordained minister, which will include continuing his spiritual work, creating new music and disseminating music from SUSM. The new album, he says, is “not just a journey of the spirit; it’s an intuitive journey around the world. When you have the right color and the right kind of brush to express a feeling or a quality of life, it instinctively comes up and becomes part of the fabric of each piece.”
Posted on May 4, 2011
Copyright © 2014 Roger Davidson