Happy holidays, Happy New Year, and news from The Identity Crisis!

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Holiday greetings and warm wishes from New Hampshire! It’s been snowing a little bit here and there for the past couple of days, so it’s looking like we’re going to have a White Christmas here. 

Looking back on 2010, it was a good year all in all.  The Italy trip was definitely a high point for me both musically and adventure-wise, and I’m very grateful that it’s been a healthy and good year for my friends and family.  I’m optimistic that 2011 will be a prosperous and bountiful year for everyone!

My first show of 2011 will be with The Identity Crisis at the “Unofficial APAP Showcase” at DROM in NYC.  Joe Abba and I will be joined by vocalist Shayna Steele, rapper and beatboxer Krussia, tenor saxophonist Sean Nowell, and bassist Sam Minaie.  This is going to be a free concert that is open to the public, but it’s primary function is as a showcase for agents and promoters that will be attending the APAP Conference.  Hopefully we’ll get some gigs and additional (as well as much needed!) momentum for this project as a result of this performance.  Please spread the word about this concert so we’ll have a full house!

In other “The IC” news, we’re working on an EP that will consist of four tracks that we recorded this past August at the Institute of Audio Recording.  Sam Minaie is doing an excellent job mixing the tracks and here’s a sneak preview:

Don’t Know : Composed my myself and Shayna, this is my first foray into straight up funky-pop writing.  I’m very pleased with the results.  Let me know what you think!

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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!

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!