Sunday, October 8th 2017 saw Theo performing live with The Tangent at Summers End Progressive Rock Festival in Chepstow, UK. Photographer Martin Reijman was there to capture the event.
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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…
If you enjoyed any of the 'Travis & Fripp' albums, 'Slow Life' or the Cipher albums, I hope you will be interested in the brand new solo flute studio album recorded in London in 2016 and coming out in May 2017 on Tonefloat Records. Called 'Open Air' it is being released on heavyweight black vinyl. It features mainly atmospheric ambient flutes – alto flutes, bass flute, concert flute and a very cool Native American wood flute.Plus there are some surprises on there too.
I have just 25 copies of the Special Edition which has completely different artwork and a cool burgundy cover. I am personally signing these ones and with these copies as an extra come two exclusive high resolution bonus tracks. For those of you that go for this option, you will also know that these copies are a vital part of making this album project actually possible. Like a sort of Kickstarter/crowdfunding element that enables it to happen at all. So you have my personal thanks and appreciation for your contribution! See ordering page here for ordering info.
The remaining copies of this Special edition are available direct from Tonefloat records at www.tonefloat.com
I also have a limited number of the Standard edition of the vinyl with completely different cover photos and a green cover available on this site, on our shop. I am happy to sign these on request. The album will also be available as a Digital Download. The album features stunning photography by Brighton, UK based photographer Mark Nelson and design by Carl Glover.
Check out the video for a taster.
Thank you! T x
Press Quotes for 'Slow Life'
Despite the complexity of the arrangements, the pieces, each recorded live in the studio, are characterised by a sense of space, freedom and clarity. The overlaid flute loops resist entanglement and the listening experience is almost entirely restful.
There are no FX that morph or distort the natural sound of the instrument, but the resulting layered loops do produce an ethereal atmosphere within which the flute can explore, and makes for a surprisingly full sound given the solo nature of the album. The music is generally slow paced, with deep consideration given to each note and phrase.
Aural Innovations (USA)
Sinuous alto flute strands are stratified across contemplative soundspaces by Theo Travis. With dreamlike slowness, layers of flutatious curlicues unfold ... These solo flute compositions are beautiful and thoughtful.
Welcome to my new website and a belated Happy New Year to you all! The revamped website has been a while coming and I am pleased to launch it so early in 2017.
I have just returned from a great flying visit to Aberdeen in Scotland with my friend and colleague guitarist extraordinaire John Etheridge. We had a great trip with a gig at the Blue Lamp Jazz Club with drummer Alyn Cosker and double bass player Euan Barton and had a fabulous night. The following morning we took a jazz and improvisation workshop at Aberdeen University and we were impressed with the students who were of a high standard and really engaged with what we had to offer.
My main recent activity has been the preparation for the release of my new solo album 'Open Air' which is being released in a beautiful vinyl package on Tonefloat Records. The album is broadly a follow up to my 2003 album 'Slow Life'. It comprises 10 flute tracks – bass flute, alto flute, concert flute and various wood flutes, often layered in hypnotic loops and largely ambient and atmospheric in nature.
The mixing and mastering has recently been completed and the artwork now signed off. There will be a special limited edition of only 75 copies for collectors, with completely different artwork and a burgundy cover, as well as the regular edition with a green cover. Both editions feature specially commissioned atmospheric photos by Brighton photographer Mark Nelson.
The special edition will also feature a link to two additional exclusive high resolution bonus tracks recorded from the same studio recording sessions.
There will be copies of both the special edition and regular edition available from my website shop (and also www.tonefloat.com) which can be signed on request. In addition to the download code, copies from my site will include an exclusive signed photo. Pre-ordering will open shortly.
I have also been involved in some great but low key gigs on the London jazz scene and planning some more Soft Machine concerts for later in the year.
Also there has been some really cool activity in my home recording studio working on some new production music - for a company that provides music for film and TV. It has enabled me to work on some really cool sounds and collaborate with some very talented people. I am working on some tracks with Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano and electronica in a musical soundworld combining Cipher music, the strangeness of Twin Peaks soundtracks and ambient electronica.
There have also been some discussions and mixes being sent for approval of recordings of concerts from the Travis & Fripp tours of 2009 and 2010. It is a thrill for me to have toured and recorded with Robert Fripp so much and I hope some of these recordings will see the light of day at some time in the future. There is some very cool music there.
But more of that later. So do take a look around the new site, hang around for a bit and feel free to leave any comments you wish to.
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?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' .