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A Short Bio:
Mike Travis is known to Canterbury music fans as the original drummer with Alan Gowen's band Gilgamesh. He also worked with Hugh Hopper (on the "Monster Band" and "Hoppertunity Box" albums) and Stomu Yamash'ta's East Wind, as well as gigging and recording with various jazz outfits on the London scene.
Born in Scotland, Travis moved to Edinburgh at age 10. His interest in blues and traditional Scottish music led to him taking up the guitar and joining a trad band which also featured future Incredible String Band leader Robin Williamson. Being interested in the rhythmic aspect and discovering there were too many guitarists and not enough drummers, he moved to drums at 16. After briefly trying his luck in London (he returned after six months), he left school in 1961 and started gigging in jazz and beat clubs in Edinburgh.
Travis's first work of note was backing pianist Reg Powell at the Pickwick Club, with Laurie Baker then Darryl Runswick on bass. The trio backed singer Jon Hendricks, which led to lots of American players sitting in - among them Roland Kirk, Jimmy Cobb and Percy Heath. By the mid-sixties, however, it became apparent that work opportunities in Scotland were limited, which resulted in Travis's decision to move to London.
Travis established himself on the London jazz scene through countless gigs at Ronnie Scott's Old Place, then the playground of the new generation of British players and bandleaders such as John Surman, Mike Westbrook and Chris McGregor. Eventually he joined the London Jazz Four, with whom he recorded two albums and played a couple of seasons at Ronnie Scott's club. A stint in Henry Lowther's band (with largely the same line-up) followed.
In 1972, Mike Travis joined Alan Gowen 's new band Gilgamesh, on the recommendation of his old friend Jamie Muir, with whom he'd played in Edinburgh. Muir was quitting Gowen 's previous band Sunship to join King Crimson. Gilgamesh went on for three years, through counless line-up changes, recording various BBC sessions and, eventually, a studio album for Virgin's budget label Caroline Records.
Gilgamesh also played two double-quartet gigs with Hatfield and the North in 1973. One was attended by Hugh Hopper, who was impressed by Travis's drumming and recommended him for Stomu Yamash'ta's band East Wind. Several months of touring followed, in a period when Gilgamesh was largely inactive.
After Gilgamesh came to an end in late 1975, Travis tried to find more financially rewarding work in the session world, but opportunities proved limited, and in 1979 he decided to move back to Scotland with his family. There he joined the group Cado Belle, featuring singer Maggie Reilly, followed by various, more low-key, jazz and folk-oriented groups. He is still playing and living between Edinburgh and Glasgow.