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May 2011

Bobby Selvaggio
Grass Roots Movement
Arabesque Recordings

For his third recording, alto saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio gathers first-class talent who, like Selvaggio himself, fly somewhat below the radar: keyboardist Frank LoCrasto, electric guitarist Nir Felder, bassist Kip Reed and drummer James Johnson.

Selvaggio’s eight original compositions range from pensive and ambient to downright grooving. Of the high-energy tracks, the opening “No Turn on Red” presents a traffic jam of acrobatic sax and guitar, burbling Rhodes and furious percussion over a hefty bass vamp. The rhythmically engaging “Return to Sender” leads off with a bass/drum dialogue, followed by serpentine excursions by Felder and Selvaggio. On the mellower side, “Signature Needed” is an extended drift with lyrical explorations from Selvaggio, LoCrasto and Felder, each probing with a gentle forward thrust. Stunning harmonies pervade the aptly titled “Dust Bunnies,” with bits of sonic dust delicately colliding in the cosmos, while Selvaggio’s wistful song evolves with joyous twists. The melodic theme of “Movement” subtly suggests “My Shining Hour,” Rhodes and cymbals imparting the crystalline backdrop to Selvaggio’s fine-chiseled spirals.

The closing tracks fall between funk and fairytale. “Fish Food” evolves from a Coltrane-ish sax/drum conversation to a showstopper for bassist Reed, while the final “Spy Movie” provides the inviting mystery of a thriller. Populist modern jazz can only benefit from such a “grass roots movement.”

Originally published in May 2011
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