Bobby Selvaggio provides a formidable assortment of musical delicacies on his most current release entitled Modern Times. Selvaggio is a superb saxophonist whose compositional approach to Modern Jazz fully allows each member of his ensemble adequate space to speak his own voice. He is an inspired leader, not timid in allowing his companion musicians occasion to step forward and display improvisational skills and wide-ranging influences. The end product is a very interesting set, covering various moods and textures with style and flair.
The opening song, "Quick Solutions," features some nimble shifting rhythms courtesy of Matt Wigton on bass and Nathan Douds on drums. A powerfully vigorous dialogue between Bobby Selvaggio on tenor sax and Sean Jones on trumpet is spirited, and highly enjoyable. The abundantly engaging "Timbuktu Step" follows and conjures up mind images of distant dark places. African camel caravans, Indian snake charmers, and other richly surreal foreign scenes come to mind thanks to the effectively arranged horn section paired with the exotic time progressions on this instrumental tale.
The songs "Whirlwind" and "Waiting" both epitomize what makes Bobby Selvaggio and his group special. These compositions contain complex saw-toothed rhythms and intricate soloing; tied firmly together by way of all members of the group perfectly in sync with every irregular syncopated beat fashioning fantastic and expressive musical curtains.
The lone non-original composition contained on Modern Times is the attractive standard "You’ve Changed." The tune is restructured and features some pleasing piano by wizard Kenny Werner in support of Selvaggio whose sweet sax tones massage the melody. Werner’s skilled presence benefits six of the ten tracks on the disc, and in particular, he provides emotionally affecting piano on "Waiting."
A very charming exploration of some earlier Jazz styles is scrutinized on the composition "More Or Less." The resourceful horn duo of Sean Jones and Selvaggio once again confirm their incredible compatibility while Dan Murphy on piano in conjunction with the rhythm section of Wigton and Douds impart appealing sensitivity to the mix; all making "More Or Less" deeply engaging.
The group sets off into free-form jazz territory on "Fastfood Wisdom," a piece of music inspired by Ornette Coleman. It opens with a wide, sprawling melody containing an uncluttered, spacious feel despite non-stop manic percussion. The tune takes somewhat frenzied and turbulent turns along the way, allowing each member liberties to distend and reach out creatively.
Modern Times ends with the title track, an exquisite contemplative unrushed melody, driven gently by pianist Kenny Werner in the midst of the rises and falls of a resonant upright bass. Selvaggio appears inspired by the great melodic saxophonists such as Stan Getz, as his performance on this song is superbly passionate and heartfelt. Lushly eloquent, "Modern Times," is a lovely finale.
Bobby Selvaggio has assembled an impressive array of artistic musicians for Modern Times. The combined display of stellar musicianship coupled with the sophisticatedly presented imaginative arrangements makes for a heady and savvy musical adventure. In simple terms; Modern Times is an innovative and invigorating release.