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Marshall Travis Wood - 'Bodywork' - Reviews

"Bodywork compresses 13 totally improvised pieces by a trio of leading British jazz musicians. Drummer John Marshall and guitarist Mark Wood have both long been active on the international jazz scene and saxophonist Theo Travis is one of the most gifted of the younger generation of musicians. Their instrumental virtuosity and intensely compositional approach to improvisation has resulted in a remarkably successful album. None of the music was premeditated and yet several of the performances are achieved with such artistry that they sound almost precomposed. "Eyes like the sun" begins with warm and romantic guitar which posits a key, drums and soprano saxophone play quietly, and the piece grows softly and organically. "Gonzo", on the other hand, begins with a manic guitar rhythm and the whole performance is angular and quirky and grotesque humour and ribald rhythm. It's a tour de force." 

Ian Carr, BBC Music Magazine, June 1998

"A welcome departure for notable British jazzers John Marshall (drums) and Theo Travis (saxes, flute). 13 short pieces they describe as "wholly spontaneous improvisations" presumably so as not to alarm their straightahead fusion fans who might otherwise think their writing has taken a wayward turn. Avant rock guitarist Mark Wood(new to me) is the wild card, supplying the grinding metallic textures on "Speed" and "Brainstorming", while Travis forsakes his usual melodic poise for a torrid tenor tone reminiscent of Paul Dunmall and Simon Picard. "Eyes like the sun" is a reassuring free ballad, and "Ozymandias" an engaging juxtaposition of Marshall's snappy meters, Wood's Frisell-like smears and sustains, and Travis's elegantly paced melodic phrasing. Safely mainstream as free jazz albums go, Bodywork is nevertheless a thoughtful and cohesive group effort."
Chris Blackford, The Wire, April 1998

"John Marshall, Theo Travis and Mark Wood perform 13 improvisations her which are wholly spontaneous. I know this because it tells me on the CD insert. I would not have known it by listening to the music. The three are so in touch with each other, and so able to react to the others' playing, that sections of this sound not only composed but also tightly arranged and rehearsed. At other times, they do conform more to the expectations of improv (e.g. "Brainstorming"), such is the range of sounds on offer here. The trio seem genuinely democratic, with none of the three dominating or consistently calling the tune. Although Wood is from a rock background, he is always ready to provide atmospheric effects and colouration, rather than more obvious rockist influences. However, on a track such as Gonzo, his roots are more obvious as he lays down a rhythmic riff which sets the tone for the whole piece and caries the other two along. Travis performs on tenor sax, soprano sax and flute; he switches between instruments to provide sounds which are ideally suited to the contexts. Time and again, he spinsmelodies so beguiling that it is hard to believe they are spontaneously improvised. Marshall is as delicate and responsive as ever and never intrusive, always appropriate in his responses and interjections. Much of the music here demands to be called beautiful. Forget the improv pigeonhole; this is simply excellent."
John Eyles, Avant Magazine, Spring 1998

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