Moving effortlessly between musical genres, projects, and influences, highly acclaimed pianist-composer Ron Davis has established himself as one of the most original, enjoyable voices in jazz today.
Ron is active on the worldwide jazz scene and has built a dynamic career including several successful international tours. He cites piano giants Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk as inspirations, but his clean, energetic, joyous playing style is uniquely his own.
Ron is the unusual combination of a virtuoso pianist and an entertainer. He reads audiences and connects, creating a multi-textured musical mix that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.
On any given night, Ron's set list might include Coldplay, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or classic Tatum. The result is a magnificent mix of instrumental and experimental, and as importantly, an unforgettable evening out.
Ron has released nine full-length recordings to international critical praise. In early 2013, he released his eighth title, Blue Modules, an experimental project exploring pop and post-modern jazz. In autumn 2013, he released Symphronica, an innovative jazz-symphony fusion album, made with famed conductor John Morris Russell.
After early studies at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ron studied with Darwyn Aitken-himself a student of jazz legend Peterson, and classical great (and George Gershwin's brother-in-law) David Saperton. In 2005, Ron was awarded the Japan Foundation's prestigious Uchida Fellowship for the Performing Arts, as well as the position of Visiting Scholar at Tokyo's Hosei University.
When he isn't wowing audiences around the world, Ron sits on the boards of numerous charities (he is Past Secretary of The Glenn Gould Foundation,) publishes articles on music, law and linguistics, and practices yoga. He is married to the beautiful and highly-hyphenated Daniela Nardi, the award-winning, Italian-Canadian, singer-songwriter of jazz-pop, with whom Ron co-produced her acclaimed Espresso Manifesto recording. The couple call Toronto home.
"One of the great minds in jazz." - Jazz.FM
"One of Canada's A-List pianists!" - CFRB
"He very well may be the most gifted pianist in Canada." - rivetingriffs
"One of Canada's hottest acts in both bop and pop circles!" - CNET
Mark sits down with Ron Davis in his west-end Toronto home for a wide-ranging conversation covering his long career as a groundbreaking jazz, classical, world & traditional music composer, writer, teacher, and performer. Ron explains his openness to music and genre exploration and reflects on how the world around him influences his compositions. Plus, a deep dive into his thesis on Chronosemantics!
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This episode is sponsored by Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory of Music, Superframe Framing Services, Saulter Street Brewery & Red Eye Media.
At first, I thought with the blast of orchestration, that this was going to be some lush, Martin Denny exotica type excursion. But, I was wrong. Ron Davis teases the ears with the introduction and then puts the music in high gear. Simple piano chords hook the listener at the onset as the orchestra builds on a compelling melody -- then, Davis starts tossing out notes in a Dave Brubeck captivating piano style. The orchestra is what gives Davis a distinctively different edge. It's not small combo -- it's almost like someone asked themselves what would Mantovani or Percy Faith sound like if their music was jazzier, edgier or challenging?
The shame of Lawrence Welk's Orchestra, back in the 50's & 60's is that many of his musicians were accomplished jazz-big band musicians and they seldom had a chance to just let loose. That's not an issue here with Ron Davis' orchestra. Not in the least. The approach has a nice provocative tint.
READ THE FULL No Depression REVIEW
Toronto's extraordinary pianist-composer Ron Davis has established himself as one of the most original, enjoyable voices in jazz today. Ron looks within, and ensures that every piece he plays and story he tells has meaning. He is unconstrained by boundaries – jazz, world, pop, and classical are all places Ron calls home. These qualities are all on display on Ron's new recording, his tenth, Pocket Symphronica (Really Records). It features a mashup of Ron's electric/acoustic jazz/pop quartet plus an energetic string quartetplaying his own tunes, inflected with Middle Eastern sounds (D'Hora); pop (Variations on Poker Face and Lady Gaga); and funk (GruvMuv).
LISTEN TO Ron's interview with Radio Canada.
At first blush, the word ‘Symphronica' might draw attention to the wrong aspect of this music and that is gratuitous publicity for its creator. But when you listen to the record – my first experience of Ron Davis' music – you get its significance no matter how quaint the title sounds. Ron Davis music cannot stay in one kind of idiom and you hear this throughout the disc. It floats somewhat easily from swing and rock, classical to a kind of jazzy idiom. The artificial barriers – and we are all sometimes guilty of creating them to define music – blur and then disappear as Davis' music unfolds.
There is one danger in what Davis does and that is to move his music so close to a kind of kitschy pop that it can easily degenerate into something akin to a Tarantino-like pulp fiction. But Davis is much too clever and mindful of that to be sucked into elevator pop. He knows his music and its metaphors and idioms extremely well. As a composer, Davis spices things up with a judicious mix of ingredients to make a fine dish of things. It was Duke Ellington – and not me – who used cooking as a metaphor for music. Here I am following that line of reasoning to the T and when this is done we find that not only do the ingredients make a great multi-course meal but the chef and his assistants (the musicians) are top tier. READ THE FULL Toronto Music Report
"D'Hora" (Really Records): This is the opening track on the just-released Pocket Symphronica, the 10th recording from acclaimed Toronto jazz pianist/composer/bandleader Ron Davis. His fluent playing meshes perfectly with the string section on a tune that mashes up jazz and world music with both exuberance and elegance. Davis describes Pocket Symphronica as "the pocket sized recording of my 2013 album Symphronica with The Windsor Symphony Orchestra." Ace accompanists here include Mike Downes, Roger Travassos, Kevin Barrett and Andrew Downing.
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Ron Davis is a name that is synonymous with creativity, inventiveness, eclectic, love of classical music, jazz, world music and languages he masters with verve. He speaks French, English, Hebrew, Yiddish, German and even Japanese. A man of many talents, Ron Davis is a pianist unconventional, virtuoso, composer of genius that you may have seen the famous Lula Lounge Toronto, privileged place for its multidisciplinary concerts, called Pocket SymphRONica ... a series of original services , managing to flourish the borders of jazz genres.
This is after realizing SymphRONica (Universal, 2013), a fusion of classical and jazz music, recorded with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Morris Russell of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Ron Davis started to think and put together the concert series at Lula Lounge which begins this Thursday, February 4th.
READ THE FULL L'Express ARTICLE
It's Monday and that means Jazz 91 - Toronto Senior Arts Editor Mark Wigmore shares his top arts and entertainment picks for the week ahead. Extraordinary pianist-composer Ron Davis has established himself as one of the most original, enjoyable voices in jazz today. Ron looks within, and ensures that every piece he plays and story he tells has meaning. He is unconstrained by boundaries – jazz, world, pop, and classical are all places Ron calls home. These qualities are all on display on Ron's newrecording, his tenth, Pocket Symphronica (Really Records). It features a mashup of Ron's electric/acoustic jazz/pop quartet plus an energetic string quartetplaying his own tunes, inflected with Middle Eastern sounds (D'Hora); pop (Variations on Poker Face and Lady Gaga); and funk (GruvMuv).
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With the release of his tenth recording, eclectic and skilled pianist/composer/producer Ron Davis has reaffirmed his position as one of the most tenacious and engaging musical artists in Canada. Pocket Symphronica embraces the wide range of Davis' skills and taste (which includes explorations into the milieus of jazz, world, pop/dance and classical musics). Comprised of 11 original compositions (and with Davis performing brilliantly on piano, Fender Rhodes and Hammond B3), this new project is a fresh distillation of his previous, innovative CD, Symphronica – a clever symphonic jazz recording which in turn led to the current chamber-sized, more portable version of the larger ensemble.
READ THE FULL Whole Note ARTICLE
Ron Davis' latest recording: Symphronica (Acronym/Universal Music np. 41816765) fuses jazz piano and the symphony orchestra into groundbreaking, irresistible, music. WHLI - Long Island NY: Paul Richards was so taken with the album he made it his choice for 'Artist of The Week."
Original. Rich. Multi-layered. Symphronica is tuneful. It's groovy. Musical worlds collide. It's the jazz trio integrated into the orchestral palette. Jazzfused new symphonic music. Not jazz with orchestral accompaniment. Not jazzed-up classical. A jazz - classical mashup.
Symphronica is made up of nine tunes. Six are originals by internationally celebrated pianist-composer Davis. One is a rollicking Québec fiddle tune. Another is a haunting Sephardic melody. Plus a gorgeous arrangement of some Bach.
In bringing Symphronica to life, Davis worked with gifted, edge arrangers. They came up with a masterly blend of his classic jazz trio with a full orchestra that grabs the listener from the outset.
Listen to the attached Interview
Davis is joined on Symphronica by his first-call jazz trio colleagues Mike Downes (bass) and Ted Warren (drums). Davis also had the rare opportunity to collaborate on the recording with the world-renowned conductor John Morris Russell. Leading the Windsor Symphony Orchestra on the recording, Russell brings excitement and passion to the music.
Recording an orchestra is a rare and refined skill. For Symphronica, Davis worked with one of the most gifted producers and engineers anywhere, Dennis Patterson. He has captured an orchestral sound that is alive and detailed. There is a brilliance to the sound of Symphronica that only a talent as huge as Dennis Patterson could have achieved.
For Ron Davis, Symphronica is a dream come true- returning to his classical roots, having built his renown as a jazz pianist and composer. Symphronica is different and it's familiar. Concert music. Crossover. Rich. Entertaining. Innovative tunes, hummable tunes. Tomorrow's standards. - See more at: http://www.whli.com/artist-of-the-week.aspx#sthash.SY8e18ZY.dpuf
TODAY!! Saturday December 28th starting at 9AM, JAZZ.FM91: Toronto President and CEO, Ross Porter features his top album picks of the year on "Music To Listen to Jazz By" along with JAZZ.FM91 hosts favourite albums and tunes of the year. Among this year's picks was Ron Davis - Blue Modules.
Ross' Best of 2013 show will air again on New Years Day at 12:00PM. Here is a complete list of all selections made:
Host of "Saturday Afternoon Jazz" Walter Venafro
3 albums: Ron Davis - Blue Modules
Yellowjackets - A Rise In The Road
Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit
song: Liquid Spirit - Gregory Porter
Assistant Program Director and host of "Sunday Afternoon Jazz" Dani Elwell
3 albums: Derrick Hodge - Live Today
Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner
Kellylee Evans - I Remember When
song: Amazing Kellylee Evans
President, CEO and host of "Music to Listen to Jazz By" Ross Porter
3 albums: Hagar's Song - Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran
Ken Peplowski - Maybe September
Don Vickery - Alone Together
song: Dreamsville - Don Vickery
Program Director and Host of "Afternoon Drive" Brad Barker
3 albums: John Scofield - Uberjam Deux
Phil Dwyer/Don Thompson - Look For A Silver Lining
Joshua Redman - Walking Shadows
song: Stop That Train - Joshua Redman
Host of "Sunrise" Juliet Dunn
3 albums: Heillig Manoevre - Toons
Remi Panossian Trio - BBang
Gavin Hope - For All We Know
Song: But Beautiful - Gavin Hope
Host of "The Big Bands" Glen Woodcock
3 albums: The DePaul University Jazz Ensemble - Salutes Woody Herman
Stacey Kent - The Changing Lights
John MacLeod & The Rex Hotel Orchestra - Our Second Set
song: Indiana - John MacLeod & The Rex Hotel Orchestra
Host of "BLUZ-FM" Danny Marks
3 albums: Harry Manx - Om Sweet Om
Chris Whitely & Diana Braithwaite - Scrap Metal Blues
Julian Fauth - Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right
song: Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right - Julian Fauth
Host of "Jazz In The City" Jaymz Bee
3 albums: Liquid Spirit - Gregory Porter
Manteca - Monday Night At The Mensa Disco
Alex Pangman - Have A Little Fun
song: Shanghai Lil - Alex Pangman
Web Coordinator Devin Fox
3 albums: Kellylee Evans - I Remember When
Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon
Jamie Cullum - Momentum
song: Pure Imagination - Jamie Cullum
Host of "Dinner Jazz" John Devenish
3 albums: Madeleine Peyroux - The Blue Room
Terri Lyne Carrington - Money Jungle, Provocation in Blue
George Benson - Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
song: Route 66 - George Benson
Host of "Cafe Latino" Laura Fernandez
3 albums: Anna Moura - Desfado
Compay Segundo - Guantanamera: The Essential Album
Marito Marques - Magic Everywhere
song: Chiripangulá - Marito Marques
Host of "Midday Jazz" Terry McElligott
3 albums: Gonzales - Solo Piano II
Lee Ritenour - Rhythm Sessions
Gregory Porter - Be Good
song: Escher - Gonzales
Host of "Wake Up" Heather Bambrick
3 albums: New York Voices - Live with the WDR Big Band
Tierney Sutton - After Blue
Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner
song: Something - Snarky Puppy
Host of "Stolen Moments" David Basskin
3 albums: Wayne Shorter - Without A Net
The New Gary Burton Quartet - Guided Tour
Keith Jarrett Trio - Somewhere
Song: I thought About You - Keith Jarrett Trio
We look forward to working with Ron in the coming year on his other 2013 release: 'Symphronica'