Theo Travis, St. James Wine Vaults, March 26th

p1010116Theo Travis has established himself as an eclectic, often off beat, top flight player on the British scene. In addition to a routinely gasp inducing roll call of jazz collaborations, he plays with rock legends Gong and has recently recorded with Robert Fripp. So it was interesting to hear him playing standards with the regular trio at the Vaults tonight; and well done the vaults for booking him.

He sounded in good form with a lovely liquid sound and phrasing and a pretty straight ahead approach with a few hints of playfulness to begin with. Andy Nowak on keyboards was weaving intriguing lines again, mixing up the time and phrasing to keep us chuckling and cheering at the back. I was however reflecting that there was something a bit throttled back about it all – and then…

I’m struck by how much energy in a band comes not from pyrotechnics or forceful playing by indiviuduals, but from the chemistry and understanding between them. It was there from the first note last Friday with Marcin wasilewsky’s Trio. Audiences feel it even if not necessarily deeply engaged in the music. This was a scratch band this evening and it was in the last two or three numbers that suddenly something happened and there was an extra mystery factor there. Everyone listening leaned forward a bit and whooped a bit more. It had been really enjoyable until then – a beutiful reading of In a Sentimal Mood by Theo, a quirky fluent solo on Cherokee by Andy were standouts – then everything went up another gear and sent this punter home with a spring in his step.

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