183

Travis Sullivan: New Directions

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Travis Sullivan's New Directions, his Posi-Tone debut, is a rewarding trip through a mix of strong, self-penned, tunes and an unusual combination of covers. The saxophonist leads his quartet with style, emphasizing musicality and emotional engagement over displays of technique, and creating a sparkly collection that emphatically establishes his talents as a composer as well as a saxophonist.

The altoist's compositions are firmly within the modern jazz tradition, but there's a variety in pace, rhythm and mood that keeps things interesting. The hard-bop "Tuneology" and silky-smooth "Georgie" are immediately engaging, with sprightly and positive melodies that enable all four musicians to shine. "Jamia's Dance" and "Autumn in NH" represent Sullivan's more reflective side, with some beautifully flowing lines from Sullivan and pianist Mike Eckroth. "New Directions" is an upbeat "bop-meets-funk" swinger that benefits greatly from Brian Fishler's bouncy, skipping, drums and a strong and slinky beat from Eckroth and bassist Marco Panascia.

Two classic tunes adorn New Directions. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's standard, "Spring Is Here," is lovely, with Sullivan firmly accenting its mournfully lush melody. Tears For Fears' 1980s pop hit, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," gives Sullivan much less to work with, as it has none of Rodgers and Hart's timeless beauty—though, to their credit, Sullivan and Eckroth both carve bright and swinging solos out of the melody.

New Directions is Sullivan's first small band album since 1999's As We Speak (Self Produced), which featured guitarist Rez Abbasi. Sullivan's main ensemble in the intervening decade—the long-established, 18-piece Björkestra project, devoted to the Icelandic vocalist's compositions—might suggest a more eccentric approach than that demonstrated on New Directions. Unconstrained by the structure of Björk's songs, however, Sullivan takes a more straight-ahead approach to this quartet project. The result may well be a more accurate reflection of Sullivan's musical philosophy, and certainly makes clear that he's a player and composer to keep an eye on.

Track Listing: Jamia's Dance; Autumn In N.H.; Tuneology; Hidden Agenda; Spring Is Here; Georgie; Everybody Wants To Rule The World; Leap Of Faith; Magic Monday; New Directions.

Personnel: Travis Sullivan: alto saxophone; Mike Eckroth: piano; Marco Panascia: bass; Brian Fishler: drums.

Title: New Directions | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Jamia's Dance

Jamia's Dance

Travis Sullivan
New Directions

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Melodien

Melodien

Unit Records
2014

buy
I Go Humble

I Go Humble

Zoho Music
2013

buy
New Directions

New Directions

Posi-Tone Records
2011

buy
As We Speak

As We Speak

Self Produced
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Live at I.C.U.U. Album Reviews
Live at I.C.U.U.
By Karl Ackermann
June 16, 2019
Read 789 Miles Album Reviews
789 Miles
By David A. Orthmann
June 16, 2019
Read Follow Me Album Reviews
Follow Me
By Roger Farbey
June 16, 2019
Read You Get What You Give Album Reviews
You Get What You Give
By Ljubinko Zivkovic
June 16, 2019
Read Play The Bird And The Bee Album Reviews
Play The Bird And The Bee
By Dan Bilawsky
June 15, 2019
Read Appleblueseagreen Album Reviews
Appleblueseagreen
By Dan McClenaghan
June 15, 2019
Read The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings Album Reviews
The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings
By Doug Collette
June 15, 2019