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Travis, Theo: Double Talk

The name Theo Travis should be very familiar to prog and jazz fans alike, as he currently is a member of The Tangent as well as Soft Machine Legacy, replacing the late Elton Dean. The talented sax/flute player's latest solo offering Double Talk allows his jazzy side to come more to the forefront, as the eight lengthy songs feature plenty of haunting melodies, virtuoso solos spots, and smoky, often time bluesy textures, with just a touch of prog atmosphere.

Joining Travis here is guitarist Mike Outram, Hammond organist Pete Whittaker, and drummer Roy Doffs, with guest Robert Fripp contributing guitar & soundcapes to a few songs. Theo adds his spectacular tenor and soprano sax, wah-wah sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, and loops. Double Talk is a dense album that demands your complete attention-make no mistake about it, this is not background music or 'elevator jazz' by any means. These songs each have a personality all their own, thanks to Travis' keen sense of composition and the players effective musical talents. The soothing, richly melodic sounds of "Ascending" takes the listener on a cascading, often times floating journey, led by Theo's yearning sax lines and punctuated by Outram's tasty guitar licks. "Oblivionville" is a mammoth 16-minute piece featuring Fripp's ominous soundscapes, vintage sounding jazz melodies from Travis' sax, plus some husky Hammond from Whittaker and an emotional, bluesy guitar solo from Outram. Theo steps on his wah-wah pedal and lets his sax do the talking on the chilling "Pallendream", as well as the upbeat & funky "See Emily Play". Whittaker's Hammond roars on the album closer, the smoky jazz/blues piece "Portobello 67", a tune that also sees Dodds firing off some lethal drum fills and Travis' tenor sax blasting away into the heavens.

If you are at all interested in hearing what one of today's most talented woodwind players has to offer, then I can highly recommend that you check out Double Talk. Theo Travis is here to stay folks.

Track Listing

  1. Ascending
  2. Oblivionville
  3. The Relegation of Pluto
  4. The Endless Search
  5. Pallendream
  6. See Emily Play
  7. And So It Seemed
  8. Portobello 67

Added: August 10th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 4393
Language: english

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Travis, Theo: Double Talk
Posted by Ryan Sparks, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-09 21:19:23
My Score:

British flute and sax player Theo Travis has quietly been making a name for himself recording with artists such as David Sylvian, Porcupine Tree and Robert Fripp over the years. As well he's also been busy maintaining a burgeoning solo career since the early 90's. Working primarily in the jazz and progressive rock field, one listen to the immeasurable talents of this gifted young musician is all it takes to see why everyone under the sun wants to work with him. If his latest effort Double Talk seeks to do accomplish anything it's to further blur the lines between those two genres.

The sound is incredibly lush and warm, while the performances are absolutely sublime, from beginning to end on this collection of seven originals and one cover (a nice run through of the Syd Barett-era Floyd classic "See Emily Play"). One can feel the cohesiveness tying these compositions seamlessly together; it's as if Travis and his band mates have been playing together since they were kids.

You want highlights? Ok I'll give you a few of my favorite moments even though the whole disc is stellar from beginning to end. The sixteen minute "Oblivionville" can certainly be considered the centerpiece of the album. Special guest Robert Fripp colors the opening passages of this song with some of his trademark ambient guitar soundscapes and Pete Whittaker's warm Hammond organ swells perfectly set the tone for subsequent solos from both Travis and guitarist Mike Outram. The psychedelic tinged, spacey feel of "The Relegation Of Pluto" reveals Travis firing on all cylinders as he rips of a series of fiery sax solo's, while in contrast the dreamy, meditative tones conjured up by Travis and Fripp on "The Endless Search" and "Pallendream" balances things out perfectly. Two later tracks, the playful cover of "See Emily Play" is a look back at an era long since gone, while the groovy "Portobello 67" is most likely a reference to the famed west end London street and market.

Double Talk is quite simply a masterpiece that in my opinion defies categorization. Who cares if it's not straight jazz for the purists or progressive rock for the nerdy intellectuals, all that matters in the end is if the music stirs something inside of you. The music contained here is simply beyond reproach.

(originally reviewed for

Travis, Theo: Double Talk
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-08-10 01:19:12
My Score:

Acclaimed British saxophonist Theo Travis has returned with a new release entitled Double Talk. Travis has quite a resume having played on over seventy-five albums and has been a member of the Soft Machine Legacy since 2006. Joining him are Mike Outram (electric guitar), Pete Whittaker (Hammond organ), Roy Dodds (drums, gongs) and a special guest appearance by non other than Robert Fripp.

BBC Radio 2 described Travis as "One of the very best young tenor saxophonists of this or any other jazz generation in Britain." After hearing his latest it is hard not to concur. Travis's playing is simply outstanding. Layer upon layer of sax and flute combine to form ultra lush soundscapes and dreamy atmospheric textures ultimately conveying a complexity of sound and experimentation. The music is best described as progressive jazz with elements of traditional jazz, rock, ambient and blues. Special mention must also be made of Outram's fine guitar playing. His use of tone and feel is exemplary, able to play fast runs or slow burning notes with the greatest of ease, perfectly complimenting Travis's melodic forays and inventive playing.

Beginning with "Ascending", the album starts off with a smooth jazz sound with lovely sax and subtle drumming combined with a nice guitar solo to accentuate the mood before taking a progressive jazz approach. The use of melody is never lost in the transition and is one thing that makes this album so listenable. "Oblivionville", the album's longest song, begins with layered keyboards creating a pastoral soundscape. Sax soon follows, taking the song down a more traditional jazzy path, followed by some atmospheric guitar parts that impart a dreamy feel thanks in part to Robert Fripp. An excellent tune and very progressive. The mellow "The Endless Search" combines ominous keys with introspective guitar creating a somewhat darker atmosphere. The hard hitting "And So It Seemed" finds the band at there most rocking complete with furious Hammond and a ripping guitar solo. Perhaps the album's biggest surprise is the jazzed up version of the Floyd classic "See Emily Play" tastefully redone every step of the way.

Hopefully this album will not go under the radar as there is a lot to offer fans of progressive rock and jazz. Travis knows how to push the envelope while never straying too far from his melodic sensibility. Highly recommended.

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