Composer and saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio tells the story of a father’s adoration for his son from birth through adulthood with Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy with 11-piece ensemble, due out April 12, 2024 via Hidden Cinema Records

A veteran of the New York jazz scene who now dedicates his passions to pushing the jazz scene of his Cleveland, Ohio hometown forward, Bobby Selvaggio and his 11-piece band return for an emotive and memory-driven journey through the annals of fatherhood with Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy. This is the jazz maestro’s 12th record as a leader. Described as “among the best of players out there” by Kenny Werner and “one of the few saxophonists on the scene today that captures you with his strong presence, focus, and sound” by Joe Lovano, Selvaggio refined his craft under the tutelage of Joe Lovano, Dick Oatts, Maria Schneider and Bobby Watson to great effect as a saxophonist and composer. Today, Selvaggio unites the best and brightest of the Cleveland jazz scene in various large ensemble iterations and orchestrations as they musically paint the tales and experiences of parental joy that Selvaggio has had the privilege of experiencing over the past 25 years. The album will be released via Hidden Cinema Records.

Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy is an album that is inspired by and dedicated to exactly what it says: Selvaggio’s son, Julian. As his son is now 25 years old, Selvaggio has found himself looking back as he embraces the joys of a fruitful father-son relationship in the present. Recalling the beauty of family in days gone by as his son grew and embracing the wonder of how his family’s relationship has flourished even now, each piece on Selvaggio’s album is a direct connection to who his son is and experiences they have had as a family.

The album’s title carries a dual meaning to it. The first is the evident concept of the album itself. Each piece is a vignette, scored and brought to life by Selvaggio, that depicts a core relational memory. In so doing, the album acts as a sonic montage of Julian’s life through the eyes of his father from birth through adulthood. The second element of the title is closer to Selvaggio, and relates to how the birth and life of his son has forever changed him as a father, musician, and human being. “I was a working musician long before Julian was born, but the most creative part of my musical life, and when I really started recording records, touring, doing all the entrepreneurial things we do as musicians today, came after he was born,” Selvaggio says. “The energy his birth and his life has given me has inspired me more than words can say.”

Musically, this album stands out as being more than just a large ensemble. With a unique balance of eleven musicians, Selvaggio’s orchestration is carefully tempered and tailored to each individual in the ensemble – as attested to by the subtly rotating personnel list on each track. Moreover, Selvaggio leans into both his hometown aesthetic with the sound and sensibilities of Northeast Ohio and into the iconic sound of 1990s New York jazz, which was the period and place in which Selvaggio himself came to prominence. This stylistic union creates a sound that Selvaggio describes as “deeply personal”, a sentiment that is accentuated by the fact that all the musicians on the record know each other’s stylings, personalities, and intricacies due to them all being members of the tightly-knit Cleveland scene. “Everyone knows everyone else, so the interaction is not rehearsed, but comes naturally and flows together,” Selvaggio says. “The band on this album sounds like we know each other and have lived musically together.”

The album opens with the track “Good People,” which is an homage to and summary of the way Selvaggio sees his son. “I am proud of Julian,” the composer says. “He has become a good human who is caring towards others first and foremost.” The track’s message is accentuated by the improvised solos by Selvaggio on alto saxophone, Tommy Lehman on trumpet, and Zaire Darden on drum set. “Blue” stands as one of the most personal tracks on the album, and powerfully showcases Selvaggio’s masterful arranging. “Blue is my favorite color,” Selvaggio says. “Really, I liked red the most, but that is Julian’s favorite color, ever since he could first recognize colors as a toddler. He always said blue was mine, and so now, blue is mine.” The heartfelt intent behind the song is further evoked by the wordless vocal melody and improvisation, which is sung by his wife, Chelsea Selvaggio. Further solos by Chris Anderson on trombone and Theron Brown on piano build up the overall soundscape ever more brilliantly. The piece “Falling Up” is an ode to Shel Silverstein’s book of the same title. That book comprised Selvaggio’s favorite stories and poems that he read with his son over many, many years, and helped spur on both their creative processes. His son, who is now a screenwriter and director, will still talk with Selvaggio for endless hours about stories, only now, the stories are his own. Selvaggio sees the wonder of “Falling Up” played out both in the memories and hours shared with the book, and with the legacy that is still being manifested in their lives. 

“I Have A Dream” is inspired by the famous and ever-relevant speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for it describes “the kind of world I want for my son.” This piece is dedicated to the dream that Dr. King set forth and how it has inspired the composer and countless others to begin making that world a reality for their children. This track features Selvaggio on soprano saxophone and, notably, Orlando Watson with a featured spoken word performance, further paying tribute to the speech from which the piece drew its inception. “Free Play” is inspired by the name given to children’s endless imaginations by Stephen Nachmanovich in his book of the same title. “Nachmanovich compares Free Play to young children creating whole worlds in their minds from nothing. This was Julian,” Selvaggio says. “I could watch him for hours in a room, not using any of the toys we bought him, while he created worlds in his mind.”

Through the wonder Selvaggio has witnessed and experienced, he continues to be captivated and to captivate. Indeed, through the inexplicable magnitude of fatherhood, the father himself has been pressed on to greater heights and more profound mastery. As the title of Selvaggio’s album boldly proclaims, through the Stories (real and imagined) he lives; through the Dreams he shares with his family, he dreams ever grander; and through the relationships he cherishes, he finds Inspiration. And it is all by, through, and for his boy.

 

Track Listing:

  1. Good People
  2. Blue
  3. Falling Up
  4. I Have A Dream
  5. Concentric Circles
  6. Free Play
  7. Four Past Midnight

 

Personnel:

Bobby Selvaggio – alto & soprano saxophones, all compositions/arrangements

Chris Coles – tenor saxophone

John Klayman – tenor saxophone (tracks 3, 5)

Tony Spicer – tenor saxophone, bass clarinet (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)

Brad Wagner – baritone saxophone, flute (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)

Dave Kasper – baritone saxophone (tracks 3, 5)

Tommy Lehman – trumpet, flugelhorn

Mark Russo – trumpet, flugelhorn

Chris Anderson – trombone (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)

Caleb Smith – trombone (tracks 3, 5)

Zach Warren – trombone

Theron Brown – piano (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)

Joey Skoch – piano (tracks 3, 5)

Paul Thompson – bass

Zaire Darden – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7)

James Johnson III – drums (tracks

Chelsea Selvaggio – vocals (tracks 2, 4)

Orlando Watson – spoken word (track 4)

Recorded September 11, 2021 and September 2, 2023

Recorded at Kent Stark

Producer: Bryan Kennard

Executive Producer: Bobby Selvaggio

Recorded and Mixed by Ian Z. Anderson

Mastered by Kent Heckman at Red Rock Recording

Front cover drawing by Amber Dimoff

Back cover photograph by Heidi M. Rolf

Back cover design by Shawn Gilbert

www.bobbyselvaggio.com 

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