Sonny Simmons, the great alto saxophonist, emailed me the other day, and I made a rehearsal with him and Michael Marcus’s group – it’s always so great to hear from Sonny.   Whenever I play with him he likes the McCoy-type playing and I’m glad to oblige because Sonny’s a genius and I’ll do anything he wants.  Some people don’t understand that and you know who you are…

I saw a special on Jack Kerouac and the Beats on Ovation channel a few weeks back (I like that channel a lot, they play a nice mix of stuff).  Anyway, the only Beat writing I ever looked at was Bukowski because a friend of mine was into him.  I didn’t get the point at all, and probably still wouldn’t.  Another friend was into Hunter Thompson.  (I guess Hunter is not technically Beat, but my good friend and sometimes artist cohort Richard Shin says he was definitely in that vein).  Again I didn’t get the point.  Then I heard Allen Ginsberg was a Satan worshipper.  But while I’m not technically against Satan, it’s hard to really be for him either.  Anyway, someday maybe I’ll try to read On the Road – that way I can feel like I’ve given the Beats a fair shake.

Marian McPartland’s producer called the other day and asked Veronica Nunn to sing on her NPR show “Piano Jazz” (with me as accompanist). When we got there she had a microphone setup for me as well, so I ended speaking as well as playing.  I’m not usually comfortable speaking on radio or in front of people, but having Veronica there really helped. Plus, Marian was very comfortable to be around as always (this is the second time I’ve done her show).  She’s really a great spirit.  We did (if I remember right) 3 tunes with me and Veronica, Veronica and Marian did one, I did a duet with Marian, Marian did a couple solo pieces – and then all three of us played on the grand finale.

Anyway, Marian and the producer, radio people, etc. seemed to be really happy with the result, so I’ll be sure to post here and let everyone know when NPR airs it.

Here’s another great classic album: 

Phineas Newborn - A World of Piano

Checkout A World of Piano! at

The first time I heard this it freaked me out a little.  My piano teacher was Harold Mabern back in the day and his teacher was Phineas Newborn.  He used to always talk about how this great piano player from Memphis (Phineas) never got his just due.  One day I heard WBGO play his version of “Oleo” and went out and got this album right away.  The first cut, Cheryl, is absolutely out of this world.  The entire album has such a clarity to it – it just blows me away.  Sometimes I’m told I’m being too self-effacing, but I try to explain to people that the only reason why is because I’ve heard albums like this!  I will never be this good, I don’t ever expect to be.  To me this is the greatest jazz piano album ever recorded.

ok, I just brought the titles back again – I just realized I end up getting a gazillion posts with no titles and I can’t find them if I need to edit… of course I cheat and go back and fix things or delete posts as time goes on.  It’s cool to change the past – just like Wikipedia. I’m a big fan of Wikipedia.  Who knew you could let anonymous people start typing into a wiki site and instead of disentegrating into chaos, people would work together (for free) to create this glorious encyclopedia called Wikipedia?  So it turns out you can allow everyone to have a voice – it works.  Ok, sometimes it’s still evil and imbalanced but its far better than what we had before – which was no voice except Penguin and Random House and New York Times.

I think its time to start pushing for a pure democracy in America.  We don’t need representatives speaking for us anymore – we have the technology to hold town meeting style votes what with the internet and all.  1 person, 1 vote on every issue.  Mike Gravel is right – he rocks.

From time to time I figure I can post cd’s that have been particularly important to me.  I’m not a big fan of public criticism, but on the other hand, I need stuff to write about.  So in the interests of blogging, here’s one of my favorite cd’s of all time:  Boss Tenor, by Gene Ammons.

Gene Ammons - Boss Tenor

Check out Boss Tenor at

What I like about this cd: It’s perfect.  This is an example of how groove and tone and love and melody are everything.  You can put this cd on at a party.  You can put it on while driving.  You can put it on while going to sleep.  Or in the car (did I already say that?).  You can put it on when studying, or reading.  If you’re in a happy, sad, or anything in between mood this cd will work. Its perfectly seamless.  A lot of Gene Ammon’s stuff is like that, also.  He seems to bring out the best in the musicians around him.  This is some of the best Tommy Flanagan playing I’ve heard (although I’m not really an expert on his stuff).

The Travis Shook / Veronica Nunn Quartet is playing live at the 2007 Jazz Improv Convention & Festival in New York City.  We don’t know what slot yet, but it’ll be somewhere between October 25-27 at the New Yorker Hotel.  There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this event, and the performance roster includes McCoy Tyner, Pat Martino, Geri Allen and Stanley Clarke – so mark your calendars – sure to be exciting.

UPDATE: Travis Shook Quartet will be performing with his band October 27th at 11:00pm and leading a panel discussion with Veronica Nunn on October 26th at 2:00pm for the 1st Annual Jazz Improv Festival 2007 in NYC.  Musicians for the performance on October 27th will be Jaz Sawyer, drums, Jay Anderson, bass, Veronica Nunn, vocals, and hopefully Kebbi Williams, tenor sax (not yet confirmed)

Hi – I’m back again, its really hard for me to write these things so I just took off the titles to individual blogs.  I think WordPress is amazingly cool with titles and categorizations, but it makes it feel so formal to have titles.  Seeing as I don’t really have anything to say, a title only seems to accentuate that fact. 

Anyway, Standard Delivery, by Veronica Nunn is now out.  I’m playing piano on it, with the same group from my cd’s (Jennifer Vincent on bass and Jaz Sawyer on drums).  It came off really well and is playing on radio stations across the U.S. and Canada currently. 

Me and Veronica played in Istanbul, Turkey about 6 months ago and I was really moved by the experience.  I’m actually pretty well-read literature-wise, but history is new to me.  I hated history and english in high school and it missed me that Istanbul was the old Constantinople.  I figured that out the first day I was there, but I don’t think I told anybody because that’s kind of an embarrassing thing not to know.

It was at a club called Nardis, located at the base of the Galata Tower (the tall, pointy thing in the picture).


I’ve been to maybe 40 countries or so over the years, and so far Turkey was my favorite.  It’s the people that make a country, and Istanbul had some of the nicest, most honest people I’ve met. I did visit some of the tourist spots also – like the Sophia Haga which was originally a Christian Church later changed into a Mosque.  The Bizarre was kind of intense -  Istanbul reminded me of New York in the shopping district, very cool, very fashionable and fun to walk around, but in the tourist district (where the Sophia Haga was) the people selling stuff were incredibly aggressive.  I taxi driver told us that the local merchants often know over a hundred languages (not fluently, but just enough to sell their product), complete with local trivia about whatever country the customer is from.  Anyway the whole experience was deep for me and I was really glad we went.

Gotta go, I’ll write something again soon.

I just re-watched this great movie again which a friend had recommended to me about a year ago – Adaptation.

There’s such a nice line in there:  “You are what you love, not what loves you.”

I’m not going to comment on it, because I’ll just mess it up.

I was going to scare a visiting friend of mine with a rubber snake, and then my better self took over and I couldn’t go through with it, and I confessed to him my dastardly plan.  The next day I found the rubber snake moved to a different place in the garage. Figuring my friend had put it there to get back at me, I picked it up with much satisfaction that my moral standards were far too high to play a mean trick like planting a fake rubber snake on an unsuspecting person, but that others in this world did not hold such high standards for themselves.

That’s when the snake bit me, and as I watched it slither off to a different part of the garage after dropping it on the ground, I reflected upon what a fool I was for having a rubber snake when real snakes are around, so that I would have trouble distinguishing one from the other.  So I got what I deserved, and learned something new:  Rubber snakes and Woodstock don’t go together.   I think I’m going to get a life-sized stuffed bear next…