Dave Storey Trio – Bosco
(Impossible Ark IALP025. CD review by Leonard Weinreich)
In the annals of jazz mythology, a be-bopper, complete with beret and goatee, stands on the corner of Manhattan’s Broadway and W52nd Street snapping his fingers. An elderly white-haired lady approaches and enquires: “Could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” The bopper peers above his Dizzy Gillespie shades and drawls: “Practice, man, practice.”
On the subject of practice, guru Malcolm Gladwell reckons that attaining that Valhalla of proficiency takes plus/minus 10,000 hours of dedicated graft. I’ve no idea how many hours James Allsop and Dave Storey have racked up rehearsing paradiddles and arpeggios, but they’ve been jamming together for over four years. Bosco, their debut album, presents audio evidence that Storey’s precise, colourful drumming anticipates every change of expression from Allsop’s fluent tenor, and suggests that they’ve become close musical mates sharing industrial quantities of emotional energy.
Bosco was recorded directly onto two-track with no edits and charts the development of their relationship. The trio’s total absorption of each individual’s musical peculiarities, preferences and predilections is apparent. And while the stripped-back line-up, tenor, bass (the impeccable Conor Chaplin) and drums, offers scant place to hide, group rapport serves the impressionistic repertoire well.
However, it requires more than practice to develop a fully-fledged jazz voice. Copious listening is essential: dedicated analysis of the achievements of earlier masters. It’s evident that Allsop doesn’t hesitate to channel his influences: the initial track, Big Chicken, resonates with the might of Sonny Rollins attempting to stop a carnival with the sheer power of sound. The Sun Is Big features Trane-like yearning over expressive drumming as well Chaplin’s bass. Billy Strayhorn’s fragile A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing conjures the tenderness of Joe Henderson over sensitive bass and caressing brushes. The almost Ornettish Cautious Tortoise with theme constantly changing direction, reminds me of all the tortoises I’ve ever known (and, during my Cape Town childhood, I’d known a few). Twisty trips around post-bop topography, fuelled by high-octane virtuoso drumming.
The title-track Bosco transports listeners to a landscape previously inhabited by Juan Tizol’s Caravan, complete with atmospheric camel-rich percussion effects. Lumpy Bunny is a whimsical exercise, updated bebop floating over loping, eccentric rhythms. Old Blue Nose allows Allsop to wail, running fluent fingers over colourful drumming. After thoughtful saxophonic rumination, the final track Yo-Yo allows plenty of space for the leader and even more for Chaplin, whose bass playing helped reinforce the album throughout.
As debut albums go, a distinguished tour-de-force.