A fine collection of warm and cool originals by a strong up-and-coming altoist. Travis Sullivan is an original voice on the horn with some really sharp ideas. His compositions often approach the edges of early-Ornette freedom while remaining accessible and comfortable. Possible hints of Tristano come and go, although Sullivan is certainly more open-minded and tasteful than many of the pianist’s surviving disciples. On the whole, Sullivan should be considered of his own accord and any potential influences set aside.
Guitarist Rez Abbasi pops up frequently on current jazz releases, and his flexible elegance is a fitting foil to Sullivan’s alto style. Abbasi possesses several gifts vital to jazz guitar: selectivity of tone, strong melodic sense, brave creativity (dig his wild turns a little way into “Newcastle Song”), and above all, the courtesy to stay out of the way when appropriate. Bassist Catherine Popper and drummer Ari Hoenig might as well be joined at the hip, so nicely do they fit together in the rhythmic scheme here. The players are eminently suited to the tunes, flowing as a piece on the gentler material like “End Game” or “Lost For Words”, jostling on the angular “Ding Dong!” (a nod to Lester Young?) and soulfully cool on the title track. “No Consequences” is a languid tango, “The Spazz” almost harmolodic in its structure and mood. Such variety makes for a consistently interesting program, interest which is compounded by the musicians’ bracing inventiveness. Sullivan’s fearless command of the horn, tempered by good discernment, sets him and this disc apart from the pack.
As We Speak is simply one of the best indie releases heard in the past year. And Travis Sullivan is most definitely an artist to watch in the coming days.
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Track Listing: As We Speak; Ding Dong!; No Consequence; Spanky
Personnel: Travis Sullivan: alto sax; Rez Abbasi, acoustic and electric guitars; Catherine Popper: bass; Ari Hoenig: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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