The Travis Sullivan Quartet “New Directions” CD Release Date Announced!

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I’m pleased to announce my Posi-Tone Records debut CD “New Directions” with The Travis Sullivan Quartet will be released on May 10, 2011.  This album, recorded last June, is my first small group recording in over 10 years. It has a collection of my original jazz works, as well as the standard “Spring is Here,” and my arrangement of the Tears for Fears tune “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” It also features a great lineup of musicians: Mike Eckroth on piano, Marco Panascia on bass, and Brian Fishler on drums.  More details to come as the release date approaches! You can also visit the official Travis Sullivan website www.travissullivan.com for more information about this recording and related CD release events and performances.

Currently seeking new piano, saxophone, and composition students!

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This is a quick shout out to all of my NYC friends and colleagues.  I’m currently in the process of building a roster of piano, saxophone, and composition students, and am accepting students of all ages and levels of ability.  If you or anyone you know is looking to study with an excellent and accomplished teacher, or a music studio that is looking for instructors, please refer them to yours truly! I can be contacted via email at travis@travissullivan.com or via my website: www.travissullivan.com

Also, I’m starting to work with a new website platform for managing my teaching business, that might be of interest to those of you that are currently teaching.  It’s called Betterfly,com, and although it is still in its beta stages, its looking to be an excellent free service for providing an online profile for your music teaching studio…sort of like LinkedIn for music teachers.   You can view my profile by going to: www.betterfly.com/travissullivan.

By the way, coming soon: Principles of Ensemble Leadership Part 3: Budgeting & Finance

The Identity Crisis Hip-Hop Blowout @ The Shrine this week!

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The Identity Crisis will be performing in Harlem this Friday, February 25 at 10pm. We’re very excited to have two special guests, the rappers Vision and Akir Plan, joining us for an evening of grooving hip-hop infused jazz. We’ll also be premiering a new song by everyone’s favorite Russian rapper and beatboxer – Krussia!
The Shrine in Harlem is a super funky bar/restaurant and a great place to hear live music, and admission to the show is free. Hope to see you there.

Friday, February 25, 10pm
The Identity Crisis featuring:
Travis Sullivan-Alto Sax
Sean Nowell-Tenor Sax
Jostein Gulbrandsen-Guitar
David Cook-Keys
Chris Tarry-Bass
Krussia-Beatboxer/Rapper
Joe Abbatantuono-Drums

Special guests:
Vision-Rapper
Akir Plan-Rapper

The Shrine in Harlem
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
New York, NY

 

Week 3 at IAR: The Casual Sextet

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Since 2000 I’ve written a number of pieces that aren’t the usual “lead sheet” type of jazz tune.  I formed The Casual Sextet to perform these compositions.  We’ve been playing off and on for about 10 years, and it’s always been with different personnel and instrumentation.  I’m finally going in a more concrete direction with the group, and back in March I organized a show for The Casual Sextet at Fat Cat that included myself on alto saxophone, Natalie John on vocals, Brad Mason on trumpet, Yoshi Waki on bass, Mike Eckroth on piano, and Brian Fishler on drums.  It was the first gig in 3 years with this band, with an almost completely different lineup of musicians, and it felt good to revisit these somewhat unusual works in the Travis lexicon. By the way…my first arrangement of a Bjork song was “Army of Me’ for the Casual Sextet, and it served as a prototype for the Bjorkestra arrangement!

It was a no-brainer then to bring this band into the studio to record for the IAR series. Yoshi wasn’t able to do it, but my friend and amazing bass player Sam Minaie (who also recorded the quartet stuff a couple of weeks prior) came it and tore it up!

In keeping with tradition, here are a few of the rough mixes:

Like Hermeto: This is dedicated to Hermeto Pascoal, one of my musical idols.  The chromatic eighth note line is inspired my his music.

Dreaming in Teflon: One of the first songs I wrote for The Casual Sextet, features a 7/8 ostinato figure, a chromatic melody, a blowing section, and a gospelly vocal solo.

Tyranny in Paradise: This is another extended composition that has an intro for saxophone and voice duet, which gives way to a more sinister melody (the tyranny, maybe?), followed by a more hopeful tune.

enjoy!

Week 2 at IAR: Recording with the Calvosa Sullivan Project

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I’ve been co-writing songs with my good friend and former Manhattan School of Music classmate Kat Calvosa for the past 2 years.   This has been an incredibly educational experience for me as a composer, because before we started working together, I had never collaborated with another composer.  Also, she writes lyrics, I don’t (at least not comfortably)! The result is about 10 really cool songs that were written with 3 different approaches: writing music and lyrics together, me writing music to her lyrics, and her writing music to my music.

Last year we started performing these songs around NYC with a band, which we call the Calvosa Sullivan Project (or CSP).  We also recorded a demo back in December 2009, and I think I posted some of those tracks on this very blog (yay!). It’s been a while since we performed live though, so I jumped at the opportunity to bring this group into the studio to record a few more tracks.  It was, once again, a lot of fun to record, and everyone did a great job: Kat on vocals, me on piano and sax, Paul Orbell on guitar, Brian Ladd on electric bass, and Brian Fishler on drums.  An awesome band!

Here are a couple of rough mixes:

Let Me Pretend – Our newest tune…Kat wrote the lyrics first and I wrote the music for this one.

Left Alone – This one was created entirely from putting ideas together in real time, so it’s really got elements of both of our musical approaches in there.

Next week I bring The Casual Sextet into the studio! Looking forward to recording the challenging music I’ve written for this band.

Recording at The Institute of Audio Research, Week 1

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This past Monday I had the first of my four weeks worth of recording sessions at The Institute of Audio Research (IAR).  They have this really cool program that’s basically a barter: they provide free recording time for ensembles in exchange for being the “guinea pigs” for their recording engineering classes.  The classes are three hours, very relaxed, and I can bring in any group ranging from a quartet to a septet.  They get a really good sound there too, perfect for a demo or archival recording.

To kick everything off, I brought in my good friends Sam Minaie on bass, Brian Fishler on drums, and Sean Fitzpatrick on piano to play some new music for quartet that I’ve been writing.  We had a gig the same night a Spike Hill in Brooklyn (which was awesome, by the way!) so the recording session gave us an extra opportunity explore the material. We ended up recording 5 tunes, and here are a few of the rough mixes, for your listening pleasure!

Beard of Bees: I thought of this as a song title a while back, and the title finally found its tune.  I Googled “beard of bees” last night, and the results are pretty disgusting and bizarre. It’s a fun tune though, and includes one of the most angular basslines I’ve ever written.

Done and Done: A pretty waltz.  Sam is really doing some cool stuff (I wish you could hear him better on this mix!) that is making the song happen.

Melange: Sean suggested that we take the tempo slower on this one than I had originally conceived and it worked splendidly! This song has a Maiden Voyage-ish ostinato for the first 12 bars, followed by an 11 bar section with very Trav-like changes.

I’m excited about these three tunes in particular, because they were written just last week! That’s one of the things I love about NYC, you can write something new and hear it played (and in this case even get it recorded) by spectacular musicians in a very short span of time.  Where else in the world can that happen so easily?

Next week for the recording session I’ll be bringing in a group that I co-lead with vocalist and composer Kat Calvosa, The Calvosa-Sullivan Project (CSP!).  I’ll be definitely posting some of the results of that session as well!

The next Bjorkestra show…The Falcon, August 20

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I got my sights set on next month, with July rapidly coming to a close and no more performances until August (Next week at Spike Hill with my new trio August 2nd yo! You heard it here first).  I’m also looking forward to The Bjorkestra‘s next show at a great venue in upstate New York, The Falcon.  Here’s an excellent New York Times article about this space, and they have an amazing lineup of jazz musicians coming through there every week.  I’m looking forward to getting out of NYC for a minute to go up there and experience some trees and clean air!

Also…tonight I’m going to check out my friend Sunny Kim at the Douglass St. music collective, performing a tribute to the music of Steve Lacy.  Should be cool!

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