When you love to play guitar, you play. Nothing
can stop you. When musical ideas are burning in your brain, you play
them. Through The Valley (2004) was Travis' expression
and his debut album, starting his career as solo musician. George
Benson, Wes Montgomery, Norman Brown and Peter White are Travis'
idols. In fact these legends have impressed a whole generation of
guitarists. Following the mainstream in smooth jazz Travis soon
succeeded in placing his music on smooth jazz radio stations
throughout the United States. Travis comments: "I really don't know if
you can call what I do Jazz parse, I don't consider myself a straight
ahead jazz musician, but a musician that has influences of jazz,
pop, R&B, hip-hop, rock, I love to combine all those styles that have
influenced me and create what feels good to me."
Even other guitarists like Les Sabler profit by
Travis' great musical talent. His sophomore album Just Let It Flow
(2007) is ready to climb the charts. On his new album one
finds no guest musician, no great names, no cover, just pure original
music. Travis got some help by his brother Jason Vega, who played
percussion on all songs and his sister Kia Vega, background vocals on
Just Let It Flow. Travis says: "This is the project that saved
me. Just Let It Flow was a project that helped me through the
toughest time in my life, it was the opposite of what I was going
and it represented the positive side of me during a time of
negativity. I composed, played, recorded, mixed and mastered Just
Let It Flow in four months, I had my brother who tours with me
play percussion on most of the tracks. Just Let It Flow became
very personnel for me, challenging me to extend myself and think
beyond the guitar."
My expectations are high, Travis is a great
talent not only as guitarist but also as composer. The short intro indicates his website
myspace.com/travisvegamusic, where you have the opportunity to
listen to samples of the new album and read about Travis' roots. The
25 years old Travis is fresh on the start to a big career.
Travis' guitar performance has this special ease
of an experienced musician. That Feeling has a captivating loop
which is transferred in various keys. Many critics compare his
performance with a flow of a river. That is easy to explain not only
by the title of this album, but also by the steady loudness of his
play and the constant tempo. This is significant on his song Just Let It Flow, on
which Travis concentrates on the melody and not on various tempi. It
is an extremely crucial element of sound, as it can affect the mood
and difficulty of a piece. Travis uses instead a trick, he injects the
loops with some guitar solos. This kind of performance infects the
melody making it hypnotically accessible.
The second part of his magic is the rhythm. When
Ever Where Ever is a good example to explain this principle.
The melody performed by the electric guitar is repetitious like a
loop. All other instruments like keyboards, acoustic guitar, drum
loops and bongo patterns are building this tapestry of rhythm, always
unobtrusive in the background.
Don't Be Late follows the same method, but
this time Travis expands his guitar solos. He has the ability to shine
and when he leaves the melody path he is brilliant. On Now & Then
Travis is using other instruments for example the flute to interpret
the melody. The dynamic touch of the tune is produced by very fast and
lively programmed keyboard patterns which I recently observed on the
Jeff Lorber produced part of Eric Marienthal's Just Around The
Very important for the dynamic of an album is
constant re-invention of music. Try something different, see the music
from another standpoint. I cannot suggest to change the guitar, when
someone likes his guitar like Travis. So Travis adds on Dorian
another rhythm element, the water drop sound. Also very popular is the
applied shuffle beat.
Leaving The Past is a slow ballade
showcasing Travis diversity. During the recitation on electric guitar
he builds the bridge with his acoustic guitar. This is a highlight in
Spanish Flamenco and I regret the shortness of this bridge. The
onomatopoeic intro of Valley View would be worth to be longer.
Travis has a strong affinity to guitar chords in the way of George
Benson, Norman Brown or Nick Colionne. It's really hard to be a chart
breaker with such a competition. The only recipe for success beside
mastership is creativity and innovation. Surprise the audience!
On Straight Chillin' Travis is using the
well-known smooth jazz formula of relaxation and chilling out. The
slow ballade Coastal View offers more of Travis' guitar skills. "Those
tracks represent the
influence that R&B, Hip-Hop and Chill has on me, bringing in that type
of production to those songs," comments Travis. The Eastside Story
marks the end of the album. The up-tempo style is obviously Travis'
Travis Vega has a good nose for grooves and
melodies. Walking on the paths of masters like George Benson he has
the condition for a bright future, good compositions and skills. He
will certainly make the next step to stardom.