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Theo Travis — Heart of the Sun
(33JAZZ063, 2001, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2002-04-01

Heart of the Sun Cover art

After three years of touring, writing, and recording with Gong and various individual projects, Theo Travis has finally found the time to gather his wits and record his own new disc. Special guest Palle Mikkelborg provides trumpet and flügelhorn on four tracks while guitarists Daevid Allen and Mark Wood appear on a total of four songs as well. The gifted tenor player interchanges his typical rhythm section on two tracks including the bluesy opener “All I Know”, with a Scandinavian bassist and timekeeper. Travis’ regular quartet including David Gordon on piano, Andy Hammill on bass, and Marc Parnell support the core three tracks on the album. There are many mood shifts and tempo changes across the disc as the composer has infused keener depth and candor as heard on the spacious “Northern Lights.” This specific track places an ECM label ambient map under Mikkelborg for him to impart a resonant muted solo. The only cover on the album is a faithful rendering of Van Heusen and Burke’s “Here’s That Rainy Day.” The monster track is the closing piece, “Bass Rock,” which is part mysterious tone poem and driven improvisation. Travis has refined his own approach to composing and playing and is now a more assured writer and arranger as evidenced by this stellar set. Heart of the Sun is in every way as groundbreaking as 1996’s Secret Island, but more mature with an emphasis on a myriad of styles. The disc is highly recommended to serious jazz fans and fusion followers.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Theo Travis, Daevid Allen

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