Pianist Roger Davidson isn't a fan of repeating himself. With each album he's shined a light on a different facet of his artistry, marrying a classicist's outlook and touch with a fascination for anything and everything musical. He's looked at the sounds of Brazil from different perches, explored the tango in detail, tackled the music of Michel Legrand
with bassist David Finck
, and delivered a standards-heavy trio program in honor of music industry vet Helen Keane. Now, with Temple Of The Soul
, he delivers a program of evocative and rhapsodic piano improvisations that touches on the spirituality that fuels his creativity.
For this, Davidson's first solo piano album, he sat down behind a beautifully restored Steinway built in 1876, put his fingers on the instrument, and let the soul-searching begin. A proclivity for pensiveness shines through here, whether Davidson is working an impressionistic angle ("Fountains Of Life"), mixing Middle Eastern sounds into the music ("Temple Of The Soul"), delivering a Gershwin-esque beauty ("Blue Voyage"), or sneaking a few jazz-isms into a piece ("In The Eye OF The Storm").
There's a certain sameness here regarding shape and temperament, yet, as indicated above, each piece is also distinct. Davidson takes his time painting his canvases, ruminating at a measured pace on every track, but the intensity of his thoughts varies from song to song and moment to moment. Different ideas and influences seep into his hands as the music evolves. "Journey Of Wisdom" is a good example of this, as triumph and tragedy, pathos and pure beauty, and a lingering sense of uncertainty all merge together in a mere seven-and-a-half minutes.
Davidson looks at this project as a "spiritual journey," not a collection of songs, and that's exactly how it plays. It's a trip full of thoughtful turns.