183

Travis Sullivan: New Directions

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Travis Sullivan: New Directions 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

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp" CD/LP/Track Review The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Unfolding In Tempo" CD/LP/Track Review Unfolding In Tempo
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions" CD/LP/Track Review Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter...
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 26, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.