Over the course of the three trio albums, it has been a privilege to hear how the musicians are finding their own sound, and also developing their repertoire.

Gaz Hughes GH004 LP

Andrzej Baranek (piano); Gavin Barras (double bass); Gaz Hughes (drums)

Recorded 18 & 19 July 2023

With a trio that keeps going from strength to strength, drummer Gaz Hughes releases the latest chapter withNuclear Bebopalypse. What is most reassuring that while there are no great seismic shifts from one album to the next, there is constant growth within the band and their collective concept. This of course bodes well for the longevity of the trio, and the promise of more excellent music to come in the coming years.

In the meantime, what does this new chapter in the story reveal. Eight new original tracks that on this outing show all the hallmarks of being beholden to no other source other than the composer, and the trio who have honed them on the bandstand to present here.

Individual influences are now becoming part of the trio’s past as the compositions begin to throw off the notion that there are hints of the work of others to be heard in the writing. Yes, the music acknowledges the tradition of the idiom that the trio play in but constantly looks to bring something fresh and contemporary.

The pianist contributes the smart ‘AB’s Blues’ that he then develops with a spritely solo that eschews any obvious blues licks in what is becoming a free flowing and lyrical style. Baranek certainly likes to tell a story in his solos, and on the evidence here he has some stories worth hearing.

Baranek closes side one of the LP with ‘Nuclear Bebopalypse Part 1’ that has a darting theme, and his solo that follows continues this idea of brief melodic lines that seem to chase each over the propulsive accompaniment from bass and drums.

Naturally the second side of the album (if you are fortunate enough to have a copy of the limited-edition vinyl) opens with ‘Nuclear Bebopalypse Part Two’ penned by Hughes. Opening with a brief drum introduction before percussive piano chords and crisp cymbal work seem to signal the off, and Baranek does not need to be asked twice. The pianist launches into another of his fleet fingered solos that he makes sound so effortless, and then the reigns are handed over to new bassist Gavin Barras and the leader to add their comments to proceedings.

After having had the opportunity to live with the music for a while, the album being never far away from the turntable for the last few weeks, I confess to having a particular liking for Gaz’s composition, ‘Shootin’ From The Hip’, with its strong bass line, fine brushwork from the drummer and funky solo from Baranek.

Over the course of the three trio albums, it has been a privilege to hear how the musicians are finding their own sound, and also developing their repertoire. In this respect it has also been rewarding to follow Hughes’s development as a composer of some fine small group compositions, another of which ‘Julie-Ann’ closes this most assured and enjoyable album.