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Review: Theo Travis at Lichfield Arts Blues and Jazz Festival

With a career playing in a number of genres, with some seriously heavyweight musicians, the leading jazz and experimental saxophonist and flute player Theo Travis led his talented ensemble through a set of original music and choice covers.

Theo Travis

Theo Travis

With sterling support from guitarist Mike Outram, drummer Nick France and Ross Stanley on hammond organ and keyboard, the quartet tackled free jazz, funk rock, blues and ambient soundscapes in a marathon set that lasted 90 minutes, and tested the inventiveness and endurance of all of the musicians on stage.

They started with the sonic exploration of Ascending, before the rock funk and unison playing of Portobello 67 took things in a different direction, ahead of the blues flute explorations of Smoking at Klooks.

The ballad And So It Seemed featured delicate playing, while a cover of Charles Mingus’s Goodbye Pork Pie Hat was an abject lesson in what could be done with a minimalist and haunting melody shown due respect by all of the players.

Fire Mountain was an exploration of jazz with a progressive rock background, before a Song For Samuel showed off a delicate flute piece written for Theo Travis’s son.

The Relegation Of Pluto was another complex piece with shifting time signatures and keys, while Sweet Emma by Nat Adderley was a fitting finale to this concert of original and atmospheric music making.

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