Travis Vance's instrumentals, which feature the five-string tenor bass guitar, are intricate thickets of sound, building upon insistent riffs that bend back upon themselves. They aren't quite jazz, but neither are they disposable pop. These songs simply exist in a sphere all their own, indebted to marquee names like Victor Wooten or Bill Frisell, but wholly unlike the output of either legend.
Vance, a Fort Worth native who graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music in 2003 and relocated to Nashville, where he now lives, has just released his debut EP, The Chase. The five-song collection allows Vance, who spent five years with the indie rock band Oblio and also grabs studio session work in Nashville, a chance to crystallize his approach to solo bass music.
"My approach to this material is not to release a 'solo bass' record in the style of someone like Michael Manring, Jonas Hellborg, or Victor Wooten, but instead I wanted to make an album of music that I think is beautiful and enjoyable, while intentionally limiting myself to doing so with a five-string tenor bass guitar in order to hopefully further the use of the instrument in some way," Vance says via e-mail. "I try to represent a pretty wide variety of styles in my set to reflect my fairly eclectic personality."
Live, Vance replicates the dense textures of his compositions with a looping pedal, packed with pre-recorded loops yet also capable of handling Vance's on-the-spot creations.
"A lot of layered looping and solo bass playing can be pretty self-indulgent and long-winded, so I'm trying to keep these songs concise, accessible and enjoyable for people who don't care as much for the technical side of playing," he says. "In other words, I want my mom to be able to enjoy it while also showing off that I've spent a lot of time working on my craft."
Vance will showcase his skills March 11 at the Moon, opening up for Parachute Musical, Denton's Foe Destroyer and Star & Micey. Vance says he'll also be playing a house concert in Denton during the 35 Conferette.