Chandler Travis Orchestra comes to Alabama Music Box tonight (video)
Lawrence F. Specker, Press-Register 11/03/2011 6:33 AM
One gets a feeling that the words “Chandler Travis” and “gonzo” have been packaged together more than a few times over the years.
Consider his work with the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, the big band he’ll be bringing to the Alabama Music Box on Thursday, Nov. 3, for a show with an advertised start time of 9 p.m. YouTube clips depict a largely pajama-clad ensemble careening through a colorful mix of music ranging from drunken-mariachi-orchestra to demented Tin Pan Alley-folk fusion.
Travis’ preferred terms for what he does are “alt-Dixieland,” “omnipop” and “gospel music for atheists.” That last one might make a little more sense when you take into account that for years, Travis regularly opened shows for comedian George Carlin.
The interesting thing about the music is that while it often seems freewheeling and even blurry on the surface, there’s an underlying complexity that’s a product of intricate arrangements and skilled execution.
In other words, it takes a lot of work to look this casual.
“We do have some stuff that’s completely improvisational, some that’s completely written,” Travis said. “And we do have a few particularly amazing people in this band. … I’m lucky enough to have musicians that apparently can play anything.”
As far out as things get, the music always has a reassuring, homey vibe, he said. It’s hard to feel threatened by people in their pajamas, he said.
“I’m hoping they’ll be surprised,” he said of the experience he wants to give his listeners. “I hope they’ll feel elated. I hope they’ll feel the joy we feel in doing music.”