The jazz pianist Travis Shook, a curiosity to some who remember his name, a cautionary tale for others, lives in rural, upstate New York, far from the city and the place he first greeted fame. People don't recognize him much these days, and for a long time he preferred it that way.
I'm 40 and I feel a lot more comfortable with myself now," said Shook, a fixture on the Seattle jazz scene in the early 1990s and once considered one of the greatest jazz musicians of his generation. That's all that matters to me. Musically, I'm a much better player than I was. But the main thing is that I'm comfortable with myself. That was my biggest hurdle."
For most, that would seem a small accomplishment, but for Shook, who experienced meteoric success and sudden failure, who was addicted to alcohol and drugs, who was virtually unemployable for a number of years, this is not an insignificant step.
Comeback," is the word he settled on. Shook will perform next Wednesday night with his trio at Tula's Restaurant & Nightclub in Belltown, his first performance in Seattle in about five years. He also will perform this Sunday night at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in Pioneer Square with a quintet led by Thomas Marriott.
Shook grew up in Olympia, attending school with the jazz saxophonist Eric Alexander. Shook attended college in New Jersey, studying with Harold Mabern at William Paterson College. He returned to Olympia in 1990, intending to stay for only a few months.