Label: Impossible Ark
Format: Vinyl LP
James Allsopp – Sax | Conor Chaplin – Bass | Dave Storey – Drums
Bosco is the debut release for fast-rising drummer and composer Dave Storey, who – with his longstanding Trio collaborators James Allsopp (saxophone) and Conor Chaplin (double bass) – takes the listener on a thrilling and immersive journey across eight original compositions and one (not-so-standard) standard.
Over four years of musical activity, beginning as impromptu duo jams between Allsopp and Storey, the trio has honed their approach towards celebrating the elements they love in classic jazz lineups and recordings, and maximising the space for communication and interaction, without even the need for sheet music. The performances are as immediate and bristling with energy as this might suggest, evoking many of the monolithic names associated with the tenor trio, yet the music still sounds fresh and individual; classic and familiar forms such as the blues are subject to subtle deviations and extensions, evidenced in the tricksy and playful ‘Twisty’ and the slithering boogaloo of ‘Old Blue Nose’, playing with the listener’s expectations and providing satisfying surprises, a feeling akin to rediscovering an old friend after many years. The reverence and respect of the jazz tradition are ever-present across the album, but the musicians are never unduly beholden to its dogma, which results in music which is unpretentious – perhaps unfussy – but never throwaway or without considerable weight, shining a light on the considerable talents of each member of the trio.
The immediacy of the music is equally served by the studio method, recorded in a single session straight to 2 track tape with no edits, an approach authentic to many classic jazz recordings which can be daunting to even the most seasoned and road-hardened bands. This all contributes not only to beautiful audio fidelity, but also the most accurate image of a live band that one can hope for in a studio recording, emphasising the immaculate playing of all the musicians, and their remarkable propensity for telling full stories together in short spaces of time (the lengthiest takes on the album are under five minutes).
Throughout the record, leader Storey plays with great musicality and maturity, resisting the urge to stamp his authority too aggressively on his bandmates, not overcrowding soloists but rather focusing on excellent tone and time (the hook up between him and Chaplin is joyously buoyant) whether coaxing more from his bandmates through slick comping, trading choruses with Allsopp on his own ‘Cautious Tortoise’ or supporting the beautiful and poignant melody on the session’s only non-original, Strayhorn’s ‘A Flower is a Lovesome Thing’ with elegant brushwork. His compositions are also effective vehicles for the trio’s approach, from the jubilant blues of ‘Cautious Tortoise’ and the album’s title track, evoking the dappled light and darker shade of the titular forest, to the more anarchic, angular approach of ‘YoYo’, the set’s bustling closer.
This is a courageous and highly-skilled debut from an exciting young musician and composer, a joyful set of impeccable jazz which rewards deeper listening. Time and again.