" Across eight exploratory tracks, Travis's own brand of propulsive modal jazz is mixed with Brian Eno-ish ambient soundscapes, late-era Miles Davis grooves and freaky, highly textured psychedelic wig-outs "
-- Time Out Critics Choice --
To tell you that I was floored by this guy upon first listen would be a gross understatement. British saxophonist/flautist Theo Travis is my biggest revelation of the year. A beautifully orchestrated jazz record which borrows from both jazz and art rock influences, but resonates with originality. In Theo's own words :" This is a composition-based album because the musical ideas were the driving force and the different ideas required different orchestrations. " For this reason, Mr Travis has assembled a fantastic group of musicians, featuring Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg who reportedly rarely collaborates on projects of this nature. His haunting trumpet style permeates tracks like the atmospheric "Northern Lights", and the avant-jazz tinged "Fast Life". Whether in a quartet , quintet, or even sextet setting; Theo Travis' compositional skills and warm, fluid saxophone playing rival some of the contemporary greats like Michael Brecker. It's in a quartet setting though, that his chops are in the forefront. The opening "All I Know" reminds us of the great jazz players of the mid '60's such as Wayne Shorter, while the 16:41 closer "Bass Rock " has him flirting with lyrical territory first brought to prominence by legendary players such as Rollins and Coltrane.
To tie in the progressive elements of this disc, let it be noted that Theo Travis was once a featured soloist in Daevid Allen's Gong, and has also done some work with Porcupine Tree. As a matter of fact, Steven Wilson has co-produced and mixed Heart Of The Sun.
I think Theo Travis took a big chance sending a copy of his disc to a site dedicated to progressive rock, but taking chances seems to be part and parcel for this man. Heart Of The Sun is filled with very adventuresome and soulful playing . The tracks seem to be constantly reaching for new ground, and the unwary listener may discover that they've reached deep into psyche with repeated listens. They certainly have for this reviewer.