Since 2000 I’ve written a number of pieces that aren’t the usual “lead sheet” type of jazz tune. I formed The Casual Sextet to perform these compositions. We’ve been playing off and on for about 10 years, and it’s always been with different personnel and instrumentation. I’m finally going in a more concrete direction with the group, and back in March I organized a show for The Casual Sextet at Fat Cat that included myself on alto saxophone, Natalie John on vocals, Brad Mason on trumpet, Yoshi Waki on bass, Mike Eckroth on piano, and Brian Fishler on drums. It was the first gig in 3 years with this band, with an almost completely different lineup of musicians, and it felt good to revisit these somewhat unusual works in the Travis lexicon. By the way…my first arrangement of a Bjork song was “Army of Me’ for the Casual Sextet, and it served as a prototype for the Bjorkestra arrangement!
It was a no-brainer then to bring this band into the studio to record for the IAR series. Yoshi wasn’t able to do it, but my friend and amazing bass player Sam Minaie (who also recorded the quartet stuff a couple of weeks prior) came it and tore it up!
In keeping with tradition, here are a few of the rough mixes:
Like Hermeto: This is dedicated to Hermeto Pascoal, one of my musical idols. The chromatic eighth note line is inspired my his music.
Dreaming in Teflon: One of the first songs I wrote for The Casual Sextet, features a 7/8 ostinato figure, a chromatic melody, a blowing section, and a gospelly vocal solo.
Tyranny in Paradise: This is another extended composition that has an intro for saxophone and voice duet, which gives way to a more sinister melody (the tyranny, maybe?), followed by a more hopeful tune.