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News, reviews, music and more about Theo Travis.

Soft Machine UK Tour – November 2017

John Etheridge – guitar
Theo Travis - tenor sax, flute, keyboards
Roy Babbington - bass
John Marshall - drums


I am delighted to be touring the UK with Soft Machine in November. 

Three quarters of the celebrated 70's version of the legendary group which recorded the acclaimed 'Softs' album in '75 plus me on sax, flute and keyboards is now a well established chapter in this iconic band. We will be playing material from the era (compositions by Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Karl Jenkins) as well as many contemporary works mainly composed by John Etheridge and myself as featured on our albums - 'Burden of Proof', 'Live Adventures' and 'Steam'.

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Theo with Tangent at Summers End 2017

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.

Theo with Luke Machin at Summers End, Chepstow 2017
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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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New Album ‘Open Air’ : 19 May 2017

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.

The Wire

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.

Ambientrance (USA)

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A belated Happy New Year

John Etheridge and Theo front and centre

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. 

Cheers, 

Theo

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