For Travis McDaniel, playing music is a meditation.
“It’s where I recharge,” he said.
This Saturday, McDaniel brings his soul-drenched neo-jazz to the Limelight Hotel. The Boise musician regularly frequents the Wood River Valley.
“I seem to fill this niche of classy cocktail parties and weddings,” McDaniel said. “The Limelight is fun because I get to play more of my funk and soul music.”
Often, he plays bossa nova at the Duchin Lounge.
“I like the entertainment aspect of it,” McDaniel said. “But I also like providing atmosphere for folks who are local or maybe visiting.”
After living in Philadelphia for about seven years, he returned to Idaho to pursue his love of outdoor activities: biking, fly fishing and skiing. Still, he can’t shake the East Coast jazz sound.
McDaniel takes great pride in introducing new songs to people. Although he plays standards like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” he also plays deep cuts like “My Buddy” and “But Not For Me.”
McDaniel has always been “madly obsessed” with Chet Baker’s delivery.
“I think he was very conservative in his trumpet playing and his vocal work,” McDaniel said. “It kind of makes the listener lean in and gather.”
Years ago, he used to write lyrics first as poetry. Nowadays, he lets the music take him where it may. While in town, he jams with local jazz staples like Brooks Hartell.
Recently, McDaniel got back into guitar lessons over Zoom. He wants to hone his craft, learning where his melodic guitar fits into a jazz trio without interfering with the bass or piano.
Although he would like to record an album in the next year or so, McDaniel is in no rush.
“I’m very content with my weekly gigs at Duchin Lounge and my biweekly gigs at Limelight and all the little private parties in between,” McDaniel said. “I love this community, and there’s always a familiar face at whatever gig I’m playing.”