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Roger Davidson: Amor por el Tango & Rodgers in Rio

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The Tango Group
Amor por el Tango
Soundbrush
2004

Roger Davidson is a classically trained pianist and composer with a sizable list of orchestral and choral works under his belt. He seems to have an endearing love for an underappreciated workhorse like the oebo, which betrays a real orchestrator's mind.

His playing on these discs shows a solid, if not remarkable classical technique. Looking at it from a light-classical, "salon" point of view if you will, his renditions succeed very well. His phrasing does lack the required rhythmic finesse, though, to convincingly perform from within either the tango or jazz tradition.

So, when the liner notes of Amor por el Tango suggest that Davidson "absorbed the spirit of the tango", then his playing hides it pretty well. It lacks the sharpness and control over elastic tempo's typical of high-level tango-playing.

It is not enough to add a bandoneon. You collectively have to hit those notes and chords with the feather-light forceful focus of a knife-thrower, and effortlessly stretch those tempo's back and forth like an accelerating divebomber that drops its load, and then pulls up again, in one swift and elegant move.

Having said so, the arrangements are well crafted (see the successful tango-fication of Cole Porter's "Night and Day"), and it is a nice touch to turn "La Cumparsita", Tango's "When-The-Saints-Go-Marching-In", into a waltz.

Roger Davidson
Rodgers in Rio
Soundbrush
2004

While Rodgers in Rio , through its leader's rather heavy-handed playing, displays a similar approach, it works somewhat better in the context of performing the songs of Richard Rodgers as bossa-nova's, and the rhythmic support from his sidemen is considerably stronger. The liner notes make no bones about the fact that this was more or less a hobby project by someone who approaches jazz and the work of Richards Rodgers as a musical outsider.

There is no question about Davidson's love and honest admiration for the music of Richard Rodgers and the Tango tradition, and he is in itself a decent enough pianist and a good arranger. If you like the idea of approaching jazz and tango from a light-classical angle (what the Germans, the true masters of the genre call "Unterhaltungsmusik") then these are the perfect CD's for you.

But if you look for renditions that fit the norm within either the jazz or tango tradition, you should look elsewhere.

Amor por el Tango :

Track listing: Alicia, Triunfal, Chique, Maquillaje, Rebecca, Griseta, La Cumparsita, Secretos, Night and Day, So in Love, Begin the Beguine, Tristeza, Perdida, Volver, Vals Para Mi Amor

Personnel: Roger Davidson (p); Hector del Curto, David Alsina (bandoneon); Susan de Camp (oboe); Nicolas Danielson (violin); Francisco Navarro (g); Pedro Giraudo, Pablo Aslan (b)

Rodgers in Rio

Track listing: My Romance, Blue moon, Some Enchanted Evening, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, My Funny Valentine, The Sweetest Sounds, Edelweiss, With a Song in My Heart, Lover, Bewitched, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, If I Loved You, Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'

Personnel: Roger Davidson (p); David Finck (b); Paulo Braga (d)

Visit Roger Davidson on the web .

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