Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy
Release Date: April 12, 2024
Label: Hidden Cinema Records

Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy by Bobby Selvaggio 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.Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy releases independently on April 12, 2024.

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.”

For: Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy

THIERRY DE CLEMENSAT
PARIS MOVE
"Described as “among the best musicians of the moment” by Kenny Werner and “one of the few saxophonists on the current scene who captures you with his strong presence, focus, and sound” by Joe Lovano, Selvaggio has honed his art under the tutelage of Joe Lovano, Dick Oatts, Maria Schneider, and Bobby Watson with great effect as a saxophonist and composer." Check out the full review here.

MARK CORROTO
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
""Concentric Circles" follows this formula with popping beats driving Selvaggio's wheel within a wheel composition which allow solos to spin off while riding the gyroscope of sound. " Check out the full review here.

CARLO WOLFF
DOWNBEAT
"A strong, diverse recording, saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio’s Stories, Dreams, Inspirations: For My Boy bursts with melodies and love." Check out the full review here.

JOHN CHACONA
LET'S CALL THIS BLOG
"Like its creator, this is music that is in constant motion. Selvaggio’s originals demand close listening and reward it richly." Check out the full review here.

DEE DEE McNEIL
MAKING A SCENE
"On this project, Bobby unites the best and brightest on the Cleveland jazz scene to celebrate his parenthood and the joy of being a father for the past twenty-five years." Check out the full review here.

JAMIE LEE RAKE
SHEPHERD EXPRESS
"If the care Selvaggio put into crafting this statement of affection for the boy who inspired it says anything about his parenting skills, he must be a swell dad, too." Check out the full review here.

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"Selvaggio’s soprano is sweet around Orlando Watson’s spoken words on “I Have A Dream” with drummer Janes Johnson III getting funky on “Concentric Circles”." Check out the full review here.

MIKE GREENBLATT
GOLDMINE MAGAZINE
"It moves, flows, bops, swings, and heads off into little tributaries never straying far from the river of its origin." Check out the full review here.

For 'Live From The Bop Stop'

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
 "Cinemascopic in range." Read the full review here. 

SUZANNE LORGE
DOWNBEAT
"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. 

 

JOSÉ RAMÓN
LA HABITACIÓN DEL JAZZ
"La música de Bobby Selvaggio es cálida pero no exenta de intensidad y poderosa fuerza." Lea esta reseña aquí.

 

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.

 

JIM HYNES
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.

JAMES READ
UK VIBE
"For Selvaggio it’s personal and it shows on these great live recordings." Read full review here.

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"Blowing like a classic sax man, he covers all the bases from skronk to harmonic runs and back to invention with equal grace." Read the full review here.