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Theo Davis: Secret Island

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This is the third CD the British saxophonist has recorded for the 33Jazz label and an exciting one it is. Theo Travis' second CD View from the Edge, was voted Best British Jazz CD of 1994 by the Jazz on CD Readers/Critics poll. Travis' musical experience is by no means limited to jazz. Since May 1999 he has been part of the group Gong, whose music has been variously described as cosmic/ psychedelic/ jazz / improvised / progressive rock / space metal, etc. The psychedelic influence is very apparent on "The Crow Road" with the Travis soprano trying to excise or feed the demons those drugs the 1960's culture spawned. This cut notwithstanding, this album offers 60 minutes plus of music of varying modes by Travis' talented band members augmented from time to time with invited guests. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" has a calypso beat laid down by Gary Hammond's congas and Marc Parnell's drums. The opener, "Lulworth Night", is a rambling but pretty dissertation by Travis and Gordon. The only song Travis didn't compose, Charlie Mingus' classic "Nostalgia in Times Square", is done as sophisticated swing featuring some excellent work by McCoy Tyner-like pianist David Gordon. On this cut, Travis' tenor assumes a light, delicate sound as Gary Hammond once again adds a subtle calypso beat on congas. This is one of the highlight tracks of the album. "Waterlily Boogie" despite a title which hints at some bouncy syncopated tempos, turns out to be melancholy, a mood which Rob Statham's bowed bass helps to create. Statham's contribution notwithstanding, the tune is built around a very thoughtful colloquy between Travis' tenor and Gordon's piano showing that their long association has resulted in an intuitive sense where each knows the other's improvisional intent. Very good stuff. "Details" builds on Gordon's measured opening chords which act as a seque to Travis' pensive sax as the bass plucks along at a much faster pace underneath, in contrast. Travis does some very ruminative noodling on this track surrounded

The liner notes contain the exhortation that "this CD sounds even better loud". Very bad advice. The melodic and harmonic subtleties get lost when the volume is turned up. Travis must have been wearing his Gong hat when he suggested this. Recommended. Visit TheoTravis on his web page at www.travis33.demon.co.uk.


Track Listing: Lulworth Night#; The Crow Road*; After the Storm*; Waterlily Boogie#; Details*; Out of Sight, Out of Mind; Three People*$; Full Moon Rising*$; Nostalgia in Times Square#

Personnel: Theo Travis - Tenor & Soprano Saxophones; David Gordon - Piano; Rob Statham, Dave Sturt - Bass$; Marc Parnell, Andrew Small$ - Drums; John Etheridge* - Guitar/Indian Fretless Guitar; Gary Hammond# - Percussion

Title: Secret Island | Year Released: 2001


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