Live From The Bop Stop
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Label: Dot Time Records
Bobby Selvaggio’s eleventh release as a bandleader also marks his first album recorded in a live context. As a venue and recording space, the alto saxophonist and composer chose Cleveland, Ohio's Bop Stop at the Music Settlement. Quite an important space for Selvaggio, the artist has performed at the venue countless times over the past thirty years of his tenure as a leader and mentor to Northeast Ohio’s blossoming jazz scene. Accompanying Selvaggio on this release is pianist Theron Brown, drummer Zaire Darden and bassist Paul Thompson. Special guest Dan Wilson is featured on the tracks “Run Away” and “Hope”. Additionally, a woodwind section is added on the tracks “Times a Changin’” and “Too Soon” including Tommy Lehman on flugelhorn, Liz Carney on clarinet, Summer Cantor on bassoon, and Kent Larmee on horn in F. This ensemble of Selvaggio’s mentees and contemporaries display stunning interplay on the alto saxophonist’s thoughtful original material.
On the topic of live recording, Selvaggio notes “As a musician, and in particular an improvising Jazz musician, there is a different attitude in performing live rather than in a studio. The raw emotion of being in front of a sold-out house and experiencing every note, every moment with a 150 person crowd in an intimate Jazz Club setting really sets the stage for a special environment.” The broad, eclectic mix of music on ‘Live from the Bop Stop’ is a compendium of selections from different points in Bobby’s illustrious career.
The group takes flight with Bobby’s “Times A’Changing”. A contemplative melody gives way to a fiery solo by Selvaggio displaying his impeccable facility on his instrument. Next pianist Theron Brown takes stride into melodic invention over the changes constructed by the bandleader. Bassist Paul Thompson and drummer Zaire Darden play as one unit; a deeply locked foundation of support and groove. Compositions like "Times A'Changing" and the album’s final track "Too Soon" feature the quartet with Woodwind Quintet accompaniment that harken back to the writing style of Gil Evans and Keith Jarrett.
The album progresses with a beautiful waltz “Hope” featuring Dan Wilson on guitar. This track in particular displays the ensemble’s dynamic capabilities; driving energy flows seamlessly into subtlety and nuance and vice versa to create a conversational dynamic inherent to the upper echelons of this artform. The track reminds one of Blue Note era compositions by composers like Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter. The bright tempoed “Run Away” shows another side of the ensemble – an ebullient, swinging tenaciousness being espoused from each of the players. The melody plays with the motif of the bridge from the standard “Have You Met Miss Jones”, and the harmonic changes are a playground on which soloists engage in all-out exploration.
“Spy Movie” offers the listener a more modern sound, bordering on celestial. The group experiments with pedals and electronic sound bringing a 70’s Miles Davis sound into 2019. Again highlighting the dynamic sensibilities of the ensemble, the piece builds both in density and volume. Drummer Zaire Darden is wonderfully reactive throughout the track, while angular melodies are performed by guitar and saxophone – a true study on color. As Chrisopher Coles states in the liner notes “Bobby has continued to be a relevant force on the national scene and locally he is continuing to help the local musicians find their voices and eventually carry the torch. This music on this record is a perfect way to go into 2020 and continue pushing the music forward.”
"Jazz soloing tends to feed on the energy of a live audience, which is why albums like Bobby Selvaggio’s Live From The Bop Stop are so exciting." Read the full review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS'S BLOG
"Bobby Selvaggio offers us an hour-long concert that puts one of Cleveland’s top, jazz night spots on the national map. Here’s to keeping jazz alive in his Mid-Western Ohio community at The Bop Stop." Read full review here.
MAKING A SCENE
“Bobby has continued to be a relevant force on the national scene and locally he is continuing to help the local musicians find their voices and eventually carry the torch. This music on this record is a perfect way to go into 2020 and continue pushing the music forward.” Read full review here.