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News, reviews, music and more about Theo Travis.

A touch of Eastern flavour

And now, as they say, for something completely different. This is a track I recorded at home today on the duduk. The piece has a Middle Eastern flavour and is something that I have been working on for a while with a wonderful vocal contribution by Gaddy Zerbib. It is my first public outing on the duduk- which is a beautiful double reed woodwind instrument from Armenia. I bought this one in Paris from fellow ex-Gong woodwind man Didier Malherbe and have been enjoying trying to learn its magical and mysterious sounds. I hope you enjoy it.

With thanks to Gaddy Zerbib (Israel), Didier Malherbe (Paris) and recently Arsen Petrosyan (Armenia) for some very helpful playing tips.

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Soft Machine release "Live at The Baked Potato"

In 2018 SOFT MACHINE released their first studio album in 37 years called Hidden Details. In support of this widely acclaimed and heralded album, John Etheridge (electric guitar), Roy Babbington (bass guitar), John Marshall (drums) and I (saxophones, flute, Fender Rhodes piano) toured the world during 2018 and 2019. A live album from this extensive tour, recorded at The Baked Potato, Los Angeles, USA on 1 February 2019, will be out as a deluxe 180 grams coloured vinyl only release on Tonefloat from 20 March 2020. The double album contains twelve tracks across three side with a specially etched side four. Order directly here, and for those that are not into the vinyl fetish, stay tuned, and who knows it might come out one day in HD Digital and CD format.

Soft Machine - "Live at The Baked Potato" (2LP) is released on Tonefloat records March 2020

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A year in Music – 2019

2019 was another busy year for me. It started with the amazing Phil Miller memorial gig at the Vortex in London at the beginning of January followed by the continuation of the Soft Machine 'Hidden Details' World tour. In late January we flew to the West coast of America to do 3 weeks touring there then flew to the east coast of the USA to finish off on the Cruise to the Edge sailing to the Gulf of Mexico with Yes, Brand X, Steve Hackett, Focus and a whole host of other great bands too. In fact Soft Machine has been in great form this whole year. We just finished an Autumn tour mainly of the UK but also visiting Zoetermeer and Tilburg in the Netherlands for a couple of shows. The music has been developing and audience response has been better than ever. Particular highlights that come to mind were the Baked Potato Club in Los Angeles, Triple Door in Seattle, HRH Prog in London, Band on the Wall in Manchester and A New Day festival, Kent..…but so many great shows.

On the UK jazz circuit there were some strong gigs, particularly towards the end of the year – and several with Ben Crosland and his band re-interpreting the Ray Davies Song book in a jazz way. In true jazz world style, some notable one off gigs meeting great musicians on the gig for the first time about 45 mins before show time and playing storming sets. Thank you 144 Club, Eastside Jazz Club, Jazz at the Keys and others. April and May saw a brief flirtation with the mighty King Crimson (me playing keyboards) and it was a thrill to play such great music and with a band of such musical giants as Mel Collins (a musical hero of mine for many years), Tony Levin, Robert Fripp , Jakko Jakszyk, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacy.

In the studio this year there was lots of activity composing and recording for Production music projects. Four new albums this year including collaborations with some very talented composers and producers, like Paul Ressel, Andrew Kremer, Dave Sturt and Richard Salmon. Some unusual albums for me, like one of whimsical acoustic songs and another of Middle Eastern tracks, but also a more familiar dark ambient one and a flutes based one. Plus I recorded some sessions remotely for some artists' albums in my studio too. I really enjoy collaborations on recording projects and 2019 was very productive in this area.

Looking forward to 2020 with more recordings in the pipeline, more Soft Machine touring (and hopefully recording), all being well some activity with the Tangent, more jazz gigs and even a solo alto flute and electronics gig in Birmingham in March.

Best wishes and here's to a great 2020 for us all.


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News Update October 2019

Apologies for the lack of updates this year, but things have been busy here and I am afraid I simply have not got round to it until now.

2019 kicked off with 3 more weeks of Soft Machine in the USA on our 50th Anniversary World tourWe have been continuing to promote the Hidden Details album. We played 2 nights in Los Angeles at the legendary Baked Potato club, 2 nights in Seattle, plus San Francisco, Santa Cruz and then flying to the East Coast of the USA, to Florida sailing from Tampa on the 'Cruise to the Edge', with amazing bands like Yes, Focus, Steve Hackett Band and Brand X. The tour was fantastic and we actually recorded various shows, so there will hopefully be an official live release sometime. Watch this space for news on that.

Apart from Soft Machine there have been some other jazz gigs mainly in and around London and I have also been writing and recording music for a couple of music production companies that supply music for TV programmes, documentaries and films. This has been both solo and collaborating with some wonderful composer/producer friends. That has been very creative and a lot of fun too. I have guested on some cool albums too, mainly recording at my home studio, including for an album by a great young singer/songwriter/guitarist from Yorkshire called Henry Parker who I met at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge when he supported a Soft Machine gig there in 2018. His genre is loosely like early John Martyn or Nick Drake and I think his music is excellent. So it was a real pleasure to contribute to his debut album 'Silent Spring'.

I continue to learn the wonderful musical instrument that is the duduk, a beautiful Armenian wooden woodwind instrument that can make such a mournful and sad yet beautiful sound. If you know either Peter Gabriel's 'Passion' - the soundtrack to the film 'The Last Temptation of Christ', or the soundtrack to the film 'Gladiator' you will probably have heard the evocative sound of the duduk. I have also been playing some guitar again and learning more about the cool music software that is Ableton Live. I have found it a very creative tool for composing new music too.

We are now in the Autumn 2019 UK Soft Machine tour and have introduced some cool new additions to the set, particularly from the album Seven (one of my favourites) which so far have worked well. I have also been writing some new material for the band and there is talk of going into the recording studio sometime next year (2020) for a new studio album which would be great. Hopefully see you somewhere on the tour, and do come and say hello!

Thanks for listening!



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2018 End of Year Roundup

So another year comes to a close. 2018 has been a great year for music for me. It started with some great jazz gigs with Ben Crosland and his Music of Ray Davies project. These were substituting for Dave O'Higgins who had other commitments. I always enjoy jumping into new musical experiences, often at short notice and this was no exception. 

There were only a few Double Talk gigs this year but each one was a corker and we started with a sold out London date at Finchley's Arts Depot which was fab. During the early part of the year I was heavily involved in the mixing, mastering and general production of the new Soft Machine album 'Hidden Details'. Also 'Between the Silence', the triple live CD of duo performances with Robert Fripp was completed and released.

Another exciting project was the trio of Apps on the Apple App store which I designed along with the excellent Peter Chilvers. Travis & Fripp I II and III were released in July - a new venture for me and something completely different. I was very happy to be involved in the new album by the Tangent called 'Proxy' and this has been getting great reviews. 

The summer and autumn saw the release of the new Soft Machine album (the first for 37 years) and an incredible world tour...Japan, Canada, America, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Norway, Italy and Austria. Amazing concerts and a fantastic reception for both the gigs and the new album. 

In December it was wonderful to play with Bill Nelson again (and Harold Budd and Dave Sturt) at his Plectronica event in Leeds. Plus there have been a couple of production music albums behind the scenes, more duduk learning and guesting on a few recording projects. So thanks for listening and looking forward to seeing you in 2019.

Happy New Year!
Theo x

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