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Bobby Selvaggio's Way Of Being epitomizes a restless sound, one that belies the alto saxophonist's unflappable nature. His latest release builds upon the groove-heavy folk/pop/funk sound of Grass Roots Movement (Arabesque, 2011).
This disc, his seventh as a leader, is split evenly between the electric Grass Roots Movement quartet and an acoustic Shake Trio. Both groups sizzle with the saxophonist's ultra-nimble and penetrating sound. The veteran of Joe Lovano's band and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Selvaggio's music is a kind of urban folk music that straddles many worlds, but whose vernacular is unmistakably jazz.
His electric band finds the return of drummer James Johnson III and bassist Kip Reed, but sitting in on electric guitar here is Chris Parker. He is Selvaggio's confederate, pacing, sometime striding lock-step with the saxophonist on tunes, like the aptly named and funky "Shake" and "Zombie Apocalypse." Selvaggio shares the spotlight, granting Parker a generous platform for his solos. The electrified approach neither detracts from Selvaggio's quicksilver playing nor the musicianship of the band. Covering Sting's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," a familiar pop tune, is the jumping off point for Selvaggio's high wire (or perhaps high-wired) act. Likewise, Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" hasn't been covered with this much ferocity since The Red Hot Chili Peppers did so in 1989.
Unplugged, his trio loses none of the electricity. Bassist Ashley Summers holds down a hearty groove on the showcase tune "Flow," while Selvaggio applies his signature alto sound, one that delivers notes with expeditious smarts and nary a misplaced sound. The slow groove of "Revolution" gives way to the ferocity of drummer Chris Baker on "Sonic Fence."
Track Listing: Shake; Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic; Zombie Apocalypse; Modern People; Higher
Ground; Flow; Revolution; Kwanza Muwanga; Sonic Fence; Dance Of The Tail Chasing Cats.
Personnel: Bobby Selvaggio: alto saxophone; Chris Parker: electric guitar (1-5); Kop Reed: electric bass
(1-5); James Johnson III (1-5); Ashley Summers: acoustic bass (6-10); Chris Baker drums (6-
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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