Marshall Travis Wood - "You just found another killer EER review!"                


Marshall Travis Wood, Bodywork (CD, 58:24); 33 Jazz -036 CD, 1998
33/35 Guildford St.
Luton, Beds. LU1 2NQ
Phone: (44) 0181 349 3059

        Bodywork is a suite of thirteen "wholly spontaneous 
improvisations" by three excellent British instrumentalists: John 
Marshall on drums and percussion, Theo Travis on saxophones and 
flute, and Mark Wood on guitars. The instrumentation alone calls to 
mind the stellar trio of Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, and Bill Frisell, 
yet only on "Ozymandias" does Marshall's playing remind one of 
Motian, with his drums flurrying deftly yet frantically behind very 
spare tenor sax and guitar.
	Wood displays a remarkably varied palette of sonic colors, 
from the gurgling, scraping, bubbling fury of "Speed" to the gorgeous 
acoustic strumming of "Olinda." Elsewhere, he plays crisp, clean 
chords, delicate arpeggios, dark volume swells, and whale-like, 
high-pitched cries. On the title track, "Bodywork," he belts out 
monstrous fuzz-bass power chords. I assume he's using an octaver, but 
on "B-line" I hear a lower-than-normal bass line being played 
simultaneously with normally pitched treble strings, leading me to 
wonder whether he's confining the octave effect to the lower strings 
only. (I've seen this done by Jack Grassel, the jazz guitar great of 
	Travis is a serious tenor player. On "Speed" he burns solidly 
in a post-Coltrane mode - it's definitely "out," but you know it's 
coming from someone who can play the hell out of chord changes. His 
horn is voicelike and comical on "Gonzo," and his soprano sounds so 
human upon his entrance in "Quiet" that I looked in vain for a vocal 
credit on the CD sleeve. And check out the harmonizing, echo-drenched 
flute effects on "Olinda."
	Overall, this trio is remarkably in sync. The mood of each 
piece holds together seamlessly between the three instruments. They 
play quiet and formless but also noisy and chaotic; they groove 
solidly in tempo but also might tease you with the barest hint of a 
meter or pulse. Perhaps surprisingly for a free improv disc, a lot of 
this music is downright pretty, but not, of course, in any 
conventional sense. It's a breath of fresh, unpredictable air. Highly 
recommended.        ~ David R. Adler

Theo Travis, View From the Edge and Secret Island (CD, 65:04 and 61:18); 33Jazz019 and 33Jazz033, 1994 and 1996 33/35 Guildford St. Luton, Beds. LU1 2NQ Phone: (44) 0181 349 3059 E-mail: Cyberhome: Mediocre production sinks British tenorman Theo Travis's View From the Edge. The tenor sounds midrangey and nasal, the piano is washy, and the drums are distant and poorly balanced with the bass. Unfortunately, I'm not enamored of the writing and playing either. Some of this material veers a bit close to "smooth" jazz, and the rhythm section is not particularly adept at swing time. Guitarist Mark Wood's solo on "Freedom," a slightly unhinged mix of Johns Scofield and Abercrombie, is a high point. Things also come alive on the last two tracks, "Empathy" and "The Purple Sky," thanks largely to a different and better rhythm section. Secret Island is a far superior recording. The sound is fuller and the tones crisper overall. The percussion on "Lulworth Night" and "Waterlily Boogie" provides a polish that View From the Edge lacks. Still, compositionally I'm afraid it's nothing special. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" is a clichéd samba, "Three People" is a humdrum ballad, and "Details" is marred by that lackluster swing again. "Full Moon Rising" features John Etheridge sounding great on a fretless Indian guitar, but Travis nearly cancels it out with his syrupy sweet soprano. I really enjoyed Bodywork, Travis's 1998 avant-garde trio record with Mark Wood and drummer John Marshall. Some of the grittiness of that trio is hinted at on these two discs, but Travis's more conventional side wins out too much of the time. Perhaps his future recordings will reveal a more edgy musical persona and a more refined compositional voice. ~David R. Adler

To purchase this recording and get more info, soundclips, etc.
Please visit my BUY IT E.E.R. NOW INDEX PAGE
go to my LINKS page and find the vendors' section.
Happy hunting!

Back to MAIN REVIEW list
Back to MEN list
Back to LADIES list
Get outta here and go HOME