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News, reviews, music and more about Theo Travis.

23 November 23 to 23 December 2020 SALE!!!

For a strictly limited period only, many of my CDs will be sold at the much discounted rate of only £4.99 plus p+p . See SHOP for details.

Just go to the Ordering page to place your order. You can request signed copies too [via info@theotravis.com] and ask for a specific dedication on any item. Please tell your friends too!

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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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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!

Cheers,

Theo

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Memory Lane Monday - 'The Crow Road'


Twenty one years ago I first read the book 'The Crow Road' by Scottish author Iain Banks. I thought the book was fab' as it combined menace, dark humour and an interesting take on the relationships between the characters. I was so taken with the book that I named a track I was writing for my 'Secret Island' album after it. I also thought the title fitted the music because of its multi-layers, its rollercoaster nature and its unusual twists and turns. The Crow Road is actually a road in West Glasgow (which I have subsequently driven on many times on journeys up to the Scottish Highlands) but it is also an expression for death, as in 'He's away the Crow Road'.
I subsequently read many of the author's other great books and through a mutual acquaintance we struck up a brief correspondence and I sent him the album which included the track 'The Crow Road'. He said he liked it which was very gratifying. I got to meet him a couple of times and was invited to one of his birthday parties in a pub in London which was fun.

The track 'The Crow Road' is a bit of a prog jazz epic - at its core it is an up tempo blues but with jagged prog' interludes, changing time signatures, and big solos. There is one particularly tricky gear change (a fast 4/4 modulating to 6/8 for the musos) that was inspired by part of a great old It Bites song ('Screaming On The Beaches' actually). There are other strong musical influences eg of King Crimson and John Coltrane. The whole band plays wonderfully on the recording which was made live in the studio – David Gordon on piano, Rob Statham on bass, and special mention to the special guest John Etheridge on guitar who plays a burning solo. Marc Parnell on drums plays spectacularly throughout. This track and the whole 'Secret Island ' album were recorded in summer 1996 at the now defunct Protocol studios off the Holloway Road, North London, I was very fortunate to have been able to book the wonderful sound engineer Phill Brown to record and mix the album. He had been recommended to me by bassist friend Mario Castronari. I think Phill was in the middle of recording Mark Hollis' classic solo album at the time and he is one of the great sound engineers – having recorded such classic albums as 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock' by Talk Talk, 'Houses of the Holy' by Led Zeppelin and Island records artists like John Martyn and Steve Winwood as well as 'No Woman No Cry' by Bob Marley. All artists and records I love. It was a privilege and a joy to work with Phill on the album and I think he got an amazing sound on it It was wonderful to hear his stories too!

I went to huge lengths for the cover of the album, travelling all over the south coast of England to find a suitable beach location. I was really looking for somewhere as atmospheric and bleak as the beaches in the wonderful 'Quadrophenia' album booklet with its grainy black and white photography by the legendary Ethan A. Russell. I ended up near Seaford in Sussex which had some amazing coastal cliffs and hidden beaches. The album photography was by Brighton based photographer Mark Nelson of (First Light photography) and it was our first collaboration – the first of many as Mark has now shot the covers of no less than fourteen of my albums including my very latest release 'Open Air'.

The track 'The Crow Road' works really well live particularly as a 'set ender' and has been a mainstay of my jazz quartet's live set touring the British jazz clubs for many years. More recently we have played it live with my Double Talk band on some gigs too. I think it still holds up. Hope you like…

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Happy New Year. Hello 2016!

​First of all, apologies for the lack of updates on this site. Very sadly, my friend Phil Smith who built and looked after my website since the beginning suddenly became very ill, and sadly passed away early last year. The website has been rather in limbo ever since, but it is hopefully being sorted soon. My deepest condolences go to his wife and family.

2015 was a good year for me and pretty productive musically. I guested on seven albums – all of which were very well received and a few – like Steven Wilson's 'Hand. Cannot. Erase', and others by the Tangent and Anekdoten appearing in many Best of 2015 lists. It was very exciting and rewarding for me to get back in the recording studio with one of my own bands and record a new album of my own material. 

The Double Talk Band with Mike, Pete and Nic worked really hard on the new material and have been absolutely amazing. I love what they all did in the studio and the new album 'Transgression' is for me a career highlight. It was great of Steven Wilson to fit in the time to mix and master the album and he was absolutely stunning in doing so. I was delighted that Vicky Powell of Esoteric Records came forward and invited me to release the album on that label and I have been pleased how that has all worked out. Great of Tonefloat to release the beautiful vinyl edition too – my first jazz album on vinyl. The album has been very well received (getting in a few Best of 2015 lists too) and it has been great taking the band out on the road – touring the British Jazz Clubs again. We have more gigs coming up this year and I am looking forward to them. I hope you can make it to one.

New Double Talk albumSoft Machine Legacy has continued to tour, though with John Marshall not being well, we have had to use dep's for some of the gigs. Thank you to Gary Husband who stepped in for the Japan gigs (also with Keith Tippett) in March 2015 and to Nic France for the Euro gigs in December 2015. A great job done by both and a pleasure to play with. It looks like we are dropping the 'Legacy' tag in 2016 and we are going to be Soft Machine from now on. I understand we could have all along, but for various reasons it was decided to call the band Soft Machine Legacy.

The surprise of the year was the e mail completely out of the blue I received in August while grabbing a coffee at a motorway services on the way home from a few days away…

"Hi Theo, David Gilmour here. Would you give me a call when you have a moment please?
Best wishes,

David

I was asked at short notice to join David's 'Rattle That Lock' tour for the European dates in September 2015 with some rehearsals in Brighton first. As a fan of his music and playing, and a Pink Floyd fan since being a teenager this was hugely exciting and a real privilege for me. I was to absolutely love the whole experience. The venues were mainly large open air Roman amphitheatres – like in Verona and Florence in Italy, Orange in France and Pula, Croatia. 

They were all stunning, the band fantastic and David Gilmour was amazing. Such a great musician and iconic talent. A gentleman too.

It was great to play again at the Royal Albert Hall in London in September when I guested with Steven Wilson and his amazing band. I also recorded a couple of tracks for his new mini – album '4 ½' .

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