The L.A. Excursion, Days 1-3

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It’s been a fun, relaxing, and productive past few days here in Los Angeles. I need to get one story out of the way first though before everything else.  I was only in L.A. for about 5 hours and who do I run into? Leonardo DiCaprio. I walked into this cigar shop to meet up with my buddy Nick, and DiCaprio was standing there at the counter wearing shades and a baseball cap.  It took me a second to process who he was, as well as a pregnant stare.  I walked back to meet Nick in the humidor and I was probably a little too loud when I told Nick who I had just seen, because we noticed that he disappeared into a back room.  Nick thinks that maybe he thought we might have been Paparazzi or something.  Anyway, I blew my chance to find out what the hell was really going on in “Inception”!

Yesterday we finished mixing the new CD for Posi-tone Records, which will be coming out in late winter next year.  I’m incredibly pleased with how this album has turned out.  The sound and performances are uniformly awesome, and the entire mixing process went quickly and smoothly.  It’s a lot easier to mix a quartet album than it is to mix a big band album! It’s also been nice to hang with Marc Free and Nick O’Toole, the “Posi-tone Guys.”  They’re very dedicated to putting out a quality product and are realistic about running a jazz label in the twenty first century.

Last night I performed my first of the three shows I’ll be playing in L.A. – Sangria in Hermosa Beach. It was fantastic to play with my old friend and vibraphonist Nick Mancini once again.  He moved out to L.A. from NYC a few years back and has really made a name for himself here. We were received warmly by the audience and the venue, playing 3 sets of all standards.  Sangria is right next to the famous Lighthouse Cafe, as in Elvin Jones’ “Live at the Lighthouse,” and they’re owned by the same people too.  So it was cool to be right next to a great part of jazz history.  The booker for the Lighthouse and Sangria is Gloria Cadena, who is a hip and bubble 85 year old woman who has an interesting connection to jazz history.  I found this blurb on www.jazzblues.org:

Cadena is the widow of legendary jazz and gospel producer Ozzie Cadena who passed away in 2008 at the age of 83.  Mr. Cadena was an in-house producer for Herman Lubinski’s Savoy record label and was involved in recordings by Charles Mingus, Little Jimmy Scott, Yusef Lateef, Milt Jackson, Marion Williams and Shirley Ceasar, Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, and Ornette Coleman. He worked with drummer Kenny Clarke on a series of one-shot recording dates for Savoy at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey, and he produced the first albums by Cannonball Adderley, and the J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding double trombone group.  In 1962 Cadena moved to the Prestige label where he worked with Shirley Scott, Jack McDuff and Red Holloway. He also started his own label, “Choice”, where he released recordings by Charles Earland and the duo of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.

Tonight the quartet is going to be performing at The Blue Whale,  which I’ve heard a lot of great things about, and I’m looking forward to delving into my original music with the band.  And tomorrow…Venice Beach for some serious R&R!!!!

I haven’t taken too many photos yet, but here are a few…

View from the plane flying into Burbank!

Nick's girlfriend's dog "Izzy." She barked at me at first, but then we were friends.

I must have a thing for dogs. Marc Free's dog "Milo."

Food Porn: I forgot how awesome the Mexican food is here in L.A.!

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This week: Travis in Los Angeles

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I’m incredibly excited to travel to L.A. this week for a bunch of cool stuff! I’ll be visiting my good friend and amazing vibraphonist Nick Mancini, who moved out to L.A. a few years ago and has hooked me up with some really cool gigs.  Definitely three, maybe four.  I don’t want to go into super promotion mode here, but if you’re interested in the dates and details please visit my website: www.travisssullivan.com .  He’s also helped me put together a band of excellent musicians: Greg Swiller on bass and Dan Schnelle on drums.  Completely looking forward to it!

I’m also going to be mixing my quartet CD that I recently recorded for Posi-tone Records.  I can’t wait to dig back into that music, and the CD is going to be released early next year.  The rough mixes sound cool already, so I’m interested in hearing what the finished product will sound like…I think it’s going to be awesome!

I’ve been to L.A. before, but I haven’t spent much time there, so if there are some super cool places that I must visit that you know about, please let me know!