Passion Dance – Live at Ronnie’s

COMPOSERS: Coltrane,Hayes,Porter,Theo Travis,Tyner
LABELS: JHCD
ALBUM TITLE: Theo Travis Quartet
PERFORMER: Theo Travis (ts, fl), Dave Gordon (p), Andy Hamill (b), Marc Parnell (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 059 (distr. New Note)

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There are few things in jazz more exhilarating than a superb group hitting peak form, and this live recording of Theo Travis’s quartet captures the band at that extraordinary level of inspiration and expression. They perform six excellent Travis compositions, three jazz standards and one standard song.

The opener, Travis’s ‘Dog Days’, sets a remarkable level of intensity and drama. Travis’s tenor sax solo borders on the superhuman in its barely contained passion, its virtuosity and flow of ideas, and when his solo ends, the group is immediately hushed for the quiet bass solo.

McCoy Tyner’s ‘Passion Dance’ is given a fresh reading with some added bass notes to the theme and an excellent piano solo, and for Tubby Hayes’s very pretty ‘Off the Wagon’, Travis plays flute and Hamill contributes an exquisite bass solo. Coltrane’s ‘Impressions’ and Cole Porter’s ‘Just One of Those Things’ are both given up-tempo bravura performances with the magnificent rhythm section in full cry.

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Travis’s very varied compositions include the ballad ‘Tread Softly’ and the delicate Latin ‘Everything Matters’, which both bring out the subtle and spare lyricism of the quartet, while ‘Nightmare in New York’ is a 13-minute suite full of incident and surprises.