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2018 End of Year Roundup

So another year comes to a close. 2018 has been a great year for music for me. It started with some great jazz gigs with Ben Crosland and his Music of Ray Davies project. These were substituting for Dave O'Higgins who had other commitments. I always enjoy jumping into new musical experiences, often at short notice and this was no exception. 

There were only a few Double Talk gigs this year but each one was a corker and we started with a sold out London date at Finchley's Arts Depot which was fab. During the early part of the year I was heavily involved in the mixing, mastering and general production of the new Soft Machine album 'Hidden Details'. Also 'Between the Silence', the triple live CD of duo performances with Robert Fripp was completed and released.

Another exciting project was the trio of Apps on the Apple App store which I designed along with the excellent Peter Chilvers. Travis & Fripp I II and III were released in July - a new venture for me and something completely different. I was very happy to be involved in the new album by the Tangent called 'Proxy' and this has been getting great reviews. 

The summer and autumn saw the release of the new Soft Machine album (the first for 37 years) and an incredible world tour...Japan, Canada, America, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Norway, Italy and Austria. Amazing concerts and a fantastic reception for both the gigs and the new album. 

In December it was wonderful to play with Bill Nelson again (and Harold Budd and Dave Sturt) at his Plectronica event in Leeds. Plus there have been a couple of production music albums behind the scenes, more duduk learning and guesting on a few recording projects. So thanks for listening and looking forward to seeing you in 2019.

Happy New Year!
Theo x

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Soft Machine - Maidstone Fringe

Pizza-Express-Soft-Machine-

Theo will be joining John Etheridge, Roy Babbington and John Marshall at the Maidston Fringe Festival 2018 on May 5th at Pizza Express, Maidstone.

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Soft Machine UK Tour – November 2017

John Etheridge – guitar
Theo Travis - tenor sax, flute, keyboards
Roy Babbington - bass
John Marshall - drums


I am delighted to be touring the UK with Soft Machine in November. 

Three quarters of the celebrated 70's version of the legendary group which recorded the acclaimed 'Softs' album in '75 plus me on sax, flute and keyboards is now a well established chapter in this iconic band. We will be playing material from the era (compositions by Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Karl Jenkins) as well as many contemporary works mainly composed by John Etheridge and myself as featured on our albums - 'Burden of Proof', 'Live Adventures' and 'Steam'.

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Theo with Tangent at Summers End 2017

Sunday, October 8th 2017 saw Theo performing live with The Tangent at Summers End Progressive Rock Festival in Chepstow, UK. Photographer Martin Reijman was there to capture the event.

Theo with Luke Machin at Summers End, Chepstow 2017
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Memory Lane Monday - 'The Crow Road'


Twenty one years ago I first read the book 'The Crow Road' by Scottish author Iain Banks. I thought the book was fab' as it combined menace, dark humour and an interesting take on the relationships between the characters. I was so taken with the book that I named a track I was writing for my 'Secret Island' album after it. I also thought the title fitted the music because of its multi-layers, its rollercoaster nature and its unusual twists and turns. The Crow Road is actually a road in West Glasgow (which I have subsequently driven on many times on journeys up to the Scottish Highlands) but it is also an expression for death, as in 'He's away the Crow Road'.
I subsequently read many of the author's other great books and through a mutual acquaintance we struck up a brief correspondence and I sent him the album which included the track 'The Crow Road'. He said he liked it which was very gratifying. I got to meet him a couple of times and was invited to one of his birthday parties in a pub in London which was fun.

The track 'The Crow Road' is a bit of a prog jazz epic - at its core it is an up tempo blues but with jagged prog' interludes, changing time signatures, and big solos. There is one particularly tricky gear change (a fast 4/4 modulating to 6/8 for the musos) that was inspired by part of a great old It Bites song ('Screaming On The Beaches' actually). There are other strong musical influences eg of King Crimson and John Coltrane. The whole band plays wonderfully on the recording which was made live in the studio – David Gordon on piano, Rob Statham on bass, and special mention to the special guest John Etheridge on guitar who plays a burning solo. Marc Parnell on drums plays spectacularly throughout. This track and the whole 'Secret Island ' album were recorded in summer 1996 at the now defunct Protocol studios off the Holloway Road, North London, I was very fortunate to have been able to book the wonderful sound engineer Phill Brown to record and mix the album. He had been recommended to me by bassist friend Mario Castronari. I think Phill was in the middle of recording Mark Hollis' classic solo album at the time and he is one of the great sound engineers – having recorded such classic albums as 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock' by Talk Talk, 'Houses of the Holy' by Led Zeppelin and Island records artists like John Martyn and Steve Winwood as well as 'No Woman No Cry' by Bob Marley. All artists and records I love. It was a privilege and a joy to work with Phill on the album and I think he got an amazing sound on it It was wonderful to hear his stories too!

I went to huge lengths for the cover of the album, travelling all over the south coast of England to find a suitable beach location. I was really looking for somewhere as atmospheric and bleak as the beaches in the wonderful 'Quadrophenia' album booklet with its grainy black and white photography by the legendary Ethan A. Russell. I ended up near Seaford in Sussex which had some amazing coastal cliffs and hidden beaches. The album photography was by Brighton based photographer Mark Nelson of (First Light photography) and it was our first collaboration – the first of many as Mark has now shot the covers of no less than fourteen of my albums including my very latest release 'Open Air'.

The track 'The Crow Road' works really well live particularly as a 'set ender' and has been a mainstay of my jazz quartet's live set touring the British jazz clubs for many years. More recently we have played it live with my Double Talk band on some gigs too. I think it still holds up. Hope you like…

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