By Carlo Wolff | Published June 2017
Bobby Selvaggio’s saxophone and warm, yet bracing, compositions star on what might be his most adventurous album. Even at its most abstract, the highly textured, refreshingly unpredictable Quantum Man is persuasive and moving. It’s Selvaggio’s first effort with his Transcendental Orchestra, which includes a jazz quartet, string quintet, voice, percussion and electronics.
This album begins with “Vanishing Thought,” a soaring, aspiring showcase for Selvaggio’s fevered alto. Then comes the deliberate title track, a conversation that sets Selvaggio’s cautious single notes and jaunty voice-box effects against a calming string section. The tune thickens as Selvaggio’s single notes recede behind Theron Brown’s energetic piano, transforming the song into a kind of geometric round.
And so the album evolves, taking the listener through a complex three-part suite called “Fading Rose” to “House On A Hill,” one of the most haunting tracks.
The notion of bel canto, perhaps ingrained in Selvaggio as the son of Cleveland jazz accordionist Pete Selvaggio, permeates Quantum Man; it’s palpable at the beginning of “Fading Rose,” as Selvaggio plays a caramel motif, building on it with ferocity.
Ultimately, the album’s eclecticism is liberating, spanning the lyrical “House On A Hill,” the edgy, eccentric “Proteanism” and “Love Within,” a ballad so mellow one might think it’s a lost track from Focus, the Stan Getz-Eddie Sauter classic.
Quantum Man: Vanishing Thought; Quantum Man; Fading Rose Movement I; Fading Rose Movement II; Fading Rose Movement III; House On A Hill; Proteanism; Love Within; Up Is Down. (65:31)
Personnel: Bobby Selvaggio, saxophones, alto clarinet, voice box effects pedal, keyboard; Theron Brown, piano, keyboards; Amber Dimoff, Chiara Stauffer, violin; Andrea Belding Elson, Christina Spackey, viola; Jamey Haddad, percussion; Trevor Kazarian, cello; Dustin May, drums; Dan Pappalardo, bass; Chelsea Selvaggio, voice.