A driving trio that incorporates the best in such small groups…

Clomell Jazz Social CJS002CD

James Allsopp (tenor saxophone); Conor Chaplin (double bass); Dave Storey (drums)

Recorded 14th December 2021

This is the Dave Storey Trio’s third outing, and the drummer has been in an enviable position of retaining the services of Conor Chaplin and James Allsopp throughout. This continuity has ensured that the trio has continued to evolve and grow in a unit capable of playing both inside and out, and with the empathy and rapport built over the course of the last four years since the release of their debut album, ‘Bosco’ means that they are able to respond to each other’s ideas in a heartbeat.

A driving trio that incorporates the best in such small groups along with an approach to composition and improvisation that ensures that both are brought to the fore in a fresh and exciting group sound. In the process of seeking out their own identity they also connect with other notable sax-bass-drums units in the history of the music.

It is this sense of a flexible working ensemble that is immediately striking about the opening ‘Gemelli’ in which the theme has the influence of Ornette Coleman’s trio of the mid sixties with saxophonist Allsopp making a passing reference to Coltrane with his iron clad tone and phrasing. This is in stark contrast to ‘Joe’ where the saxophonist exhibits the melodic invention of Sonny Rollins, neatly propelled along by Chaplin and Storey.

Trane’s presence is again felt on the opening theme of the title track, but there the comparison ends as Allsopp takes the trio and melody in a very different direction in a solo that is full of invention and small details that repay close attention.

As if the above were not enough, the trio take a tour de force on another Allsopp composition ‘Magnum’ in which bass and drums turn up the heat under the saxophonist provoking a furious yet tightly controlled and organised solo from Allsopp. There is a fleeting sax and drums interlude that is fuelled nicely by Dave Storey before Conor Chaplin  rejoins as the tenor solo continues to build to its climax.

The closing ‘Body And Soul’ is the lone standard, and while it is not usual to close an album with a ballad, and especially not a recording as incendiary as this one, it is appropriate after what has gone before to offer us some respite, and to reflect on a remarkable Trio album by these three exceptional musicians.

Reviewed by Nick Lea