Nick Travis featuring Al Cohn – How About You?
Though Nick Travis (1925-1964) spent his brief life in the shadow of other mas- ters of his instrument, he was one of New York’s jazz elite, part of the formida- ble clique of first-call trumpet players for recording sessions in the city and a key man in the trumpet sections of the Ray McKinley, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Sauter-Finegan, Elliot Lawrence and Gerry Mulligan bands. Technically impressive, with great range and crisp articulation, he was also a reliable and sometimes brilliant soloist. It was little wonder he was in great demand.
Despite this, he made only one album as leader, The Panic Is On, a quintet recorded with his great musical buddy, tenor saxophonist Al Cohn. Their undoubted rapport and Cohn’s arrangements contribute much to the success of this assured and pleasurable album. Cohn also wrote most of the charts for the quartet, octets and big band dates in which Travis is a featured soloist in this tribute to his talent. If a glance at the stature of the players involved shows he belonged at the top table, a listen to the opening How About You? confirms it.
While not a profoundly original improviser, Nick Travis was always profession- al, usually interesting and sometimes exceptional. It’s time for a re-evaluation to give him the credit he deserves.
1. How About You? (How About Choo?) - 2:15 2. I’m Tellin’ Ya - 5:56 3. Jane Street - 4:29 4. Ah-Moore - 4:50 5. That’s What You Think - 4:44 6. Nick’s Knacks - 5:30 7. They All Laughed - 3:23 8. Tickletoe - 5:17 9. Travisimo - 6:24 10. Jazzbo’s Jaunt - 5:08 11. You Don’t Know What Love Is - 4:44 12. Cohn Pone - 5:18 13. In the Nick of Time - 3:52 14. Standing on the Corner - 3:48 15. Blues for Someone - 4:21 16. Lover Man - 4:27 17. Blues Alley - 3:29
Track #1, from the 12” album “Inside Sauter-Finegan” (RCA Victor LJM-1003)
Tracks #2-5, from the 10” album “Al Cohn Quintet” (Progressive PLP-3004)
Tracks #6-13, from the 12” album “The Panic is On” (RCA Victor LJM-1010)
Track #14, from the 12” album “Jazz Goes Broadway” (Vik LX-1113)
Tracks #15 & 16, from the 12” album “Music She Digs the Most” (MGM E3491)
Track #17, from the 12” album “Swinging at The Steel Pier” (Fantasy 3236)
Note: The Progressive 10” album “Al Cohn Quintet” (PLP-3004) was later reissued by Savoy as MG 15036, and included in the 12” album “Al Cohn’s Tones” (MG-12048)
Personnel on #1: Nick Travis & The Sons of Sauter-Finegan: Nick Travis (trumpet) , Ralph Burns (piano) , Park Hill (guitar) , Max Bennett (bass) , Mousey Alexander (drums)
Recorded in New York City, February 26, 1954
Personnel on #2-5: Al Cohn Quintet: Nick Travis (trumpet) , Al Cohn (tenor sax) , Horace Silver (piano) , Curley Russell (bass) , Max Roach (drums)
Recorded in Hackensack, New Jersey, June 23, 1953
Personnel on #6-13: Nick Travis Quintet: Nick Travis (trumpet) , Al Cohn (tenor sax) , John Williams (piano) , Teddy Kotick (bass) , Art Mardigan (drums)
Recorded in New York City, March 24 & 25 (#10-13), 1954
Personnel on #14: Elliot Lawrence Octet: Nick Travis (trumpet) , Urbie Green trombone) , Hal McKusick (clarinet) , Zoot Sims (tenor sax) , Al Cohn (baritone sax & arranger) , Elliot Lawrence (piano) , Chubby Jackson (bass) , Don Lamond (drums).
Recorded in New York City, RCA Victor Studios, May 8, 1957
Personnel on #15-16: Richard Wess Octet: Nick Travis (trumpet) , Frank Rehak (trombone) , Jerry Sanfino (alto sax) , Al Cohn (tenor sax) , Richard Wess (piano) , Johnny Smith or Mundell Lowe (on 16) (guitar) , Aaron Bell or Milt Hinton (on16) (bass) , Osie Johnson (drums)
Recorded in New York City, January 1957
Personnel on #17: Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra: Nick Travis / Al Derisi / Stan Fishelson / Bernie Glow (trumpets) , Eddie Bert / Freddy Zito / Paul Selden (trombones) , Tony Miranda (French horn) , Hal McKusick / Sam Marowitz (alto saxes) , Al Cohn / Eddie Waserman (tenor saxes) , Charlie O’Kane (baritone sax) , Elliot Lawrence (piano & leader) , Russ Saunders (bass) , Sol Gubin (drums)
Recorded in Atlantic City, NJ, June 1956
1. jazzweekly.com - George W. Harris - March 27, 2017
"A first rate trumpeter, Nick Travis served his time as a sideman for the likes of Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Gerry Mulligan. He recorded only one album as aleader, The Panic Is On from 1954, and it’s the centerpiece of this impressive reissue of that session and others that featured him as a sideman.
Travis’ warm Chet Baker-like tone teams up with Al Cohn/ts-arr, John Williams/p, Teddy Kotick/b and Art Mardigan/dr for 8 toe tappers, with Cohn’s horn and pen doing wonders with “Tickletoe” and “Nick’s Knacks.” Travis’ own “ Cohn Pone” is a hepster’s delight, while a quintet under the leadership of Cohn, but also including boppers like Horace Silver/p, Curley Russell/b and Max Roach/dr drives like a truck on the uptempo “I’m Tellin’ Ya” and the bluesy “Jane Street.” A couple of tunes lead by pianist Elliot Lawrence have a big band swagger on “Blues Alley” and swing with aplomb as Zoot Sims, Cohn and Chubby Jackson/b make for great sounds on “Standing on the Corner.” Travis gets a rich solo during a ’57 session with Richard Wess’ octet on “Blues For someone” and “Lover Man” making you wonder why we missed this guy the first time around. Check it out!"