By Suzanne Lorge | Published June 2020
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. Selvaggio has considerable experience in the control room—10 previous studio albums as a bandleader—but with this latest effort, he drops his first live release.
The appeal of Selvaggio’s work—here captured at an intimate venue near Lake Erie—stems as much from his dexterous playing as his clean writing. On the buoyant waltz “Hope,” he moves dynamically along the swing-bop continuum—soloing fiercely, syncing in unison, laying out—before falling into an impassioned repartee with guest guitarist Dan Wilson on the outro. You can’t not listen. Selvaggio’s rhythm section, all unyielding musicians when it comes to feel, provided ample horsepower for the evening’s performance. Some standout moments: drummer Zaire Darden’s solo, a fusillade of unerring strikes, on the impressionistic “Spy Movie”; pianist Theron Brown’s extended improvisation on “Bella,” peppered with incidental blues riffs and briskly articulated scales; and bassist Paul Thompson’s joyous solo on Selvaggio’s elegant arrangement of “Blackbird.”
Of late, Selvaggio has been moving into writing for woodwind sections, and in line with this interest, he opened and closed the album with tunes featuring four additional horns. The tunes gave him the opportunity to experiment with some warm chordal blends. This broader palette suits his sleek aesthetic, certainly, and opens a window to some new sonic possibilities for the versatile bandleader.
Live From The Bop Stop: Times A Changin’; Hope; Run Away; Deniable Plausibility; Spy Movie; Blackbird; Bella; Too Soon. (77:56)
Personnel: Bobby Selvaggio, alto saxophone and pedals; Theron Brown, piano, keyboards; Zaire Darden, drums; Paul Thompson, bass, electric bass; Dan Wilson, electric guitar (2, 3); Tommy Lehman, flugelhorn (1, 8); Liz Carney, clarinet (1, 8); Summer Cantor, bassoon (1, 8); Kent Larmee, French horn (1, 8).