Review of Awake – All About Jazz

All About Jazz (April 2007) Vol 5, Number 3

If you’ve never heard of Travis Shook, you will. He has earned his stripes as pianist for the likes of Benny Golson and Branford Marsalis. Recorded back in 2000, Shook leads his working trio with a few guest appearances. Shook has a sound that has dashes of McCoy Tyner, but don’t mistake some of the familiarity because Shook is his own man. The hard driving title piece features some provocative and stimulating solo work and interplay with the tenacious Jennifer Vincent (bass) and Jaz Sawyer (drums). The trio gets into an exotic groove on the lovely “Touch and Go,” and pops the clutch into overdrive with guests Kebbi Williams (tenor sax) and Ron Westray (trombone) on the supercharged “Counterblues.” 

Williams’ sandpaper tone sometimes teeters over the top, but Westray’s muted and open trombone slides right into the groove. A thoroughly modernized take of the standard “Broadway” features Sawyer’s volcanic percussion work mixing well with Shook’s advanced harmonies. Vocalist Veronica Nunn’s husky voice fits well into the toe tapping take of Bob Dorough’s “Nothing Like You.” Fresh and hot seven years out of the oven, Awake is a prime example of the adage “good things come to those who wait.”

— George Harris