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New Directions could signify a paradigm shift for alto saxophonist Travis Sullivan's eighteen-piece Björkestra, a unit dedicated to performing arrangements of Icelandic pop vocalist Björk. Sullivan goes back to his fundamental mainstream jazz roots on the lyrically rich New Directions, assembled with memorable comps and sterling interplay from his quartet. Sullivan's vocal-like tonalities and muscular alto work casts an acoustic game plan that often yields electrifying results.
Sullivan generates memorable compositions while injecting a spirited aura into the program, making "Tuneology" serve as a fitting analogy for his sensitized approach via a brisk, tight-knit bop groove, interspersed with drummer Brian Fishler's snappy Latin beats. Sullivan's fluent phraseology is wrapped into a full-bodied sound amid his cunning improvisational segments while the rhythm section sizzles, complemented by pianist Mike Eckroth, who dances around the primary theme.
The quartet reaches for the stars on "Tuneology." With memorable licks and gravitating performances, the music attains a higher level of interest, countering the influx of post-bop modernism that sometimes moves forward without much traction or significance. Sullivan abides by a qualitative musical ethic on New Directions.
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.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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