CD review

Dave Storey Trio – “Jouska”

Dave Storey Trio – Jouska
(Impossible Ark Records IALP 026. Download review by Mary James)

In the Icelandic language there are 46 words for snow. In English we have just one. So imagine inventing words for perceived gaps in our language, for emotions we didn’t even know we had. That’s what John Koenig created in his The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and Dave Storey has selected one of these words, Jouska, to name his album. In the Dictionary jouska is a “hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head”. Unpick this a bit and you get a feeling of paranoia, of the unsaid and unresolved. And how that idea contrasts with this album, where there is a sense of effortless empathy from the very first note, and the conversation is real.

Jouska is Storey’s second album, following hot on the heels of his well-received debut album Bosco , released just one year ago. Storey had planned a tour to promote the album this summer and what cruelty to be deprived of hearing this joyous music live and close-up. On tour this band plays from memory, enabling them to be more present in the moment and enhancing their connection as a band, their sound having been honed over years of playing together. It’s the same line-up and formula in this album as Bosco: James Allsopp is on tenor saxophone and Conor Chaplin on double bass, playing original swinging up-tempo jazz in a classic line-up, in this case, drum-led.

The music is easy to listen to, with strong memorable melodies such as the foot-tapping Gravel Baron. The compositions are shared by Storey and Allsopp. The only standard is Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge. Allsopp may have had Ella Fitzgerald’s version in mind, it’s less an Ellington fox trot and more a dreamy meander, a perfect platform for the glorious fluency and subtlety of Allsopp, and even when he hints at raucousness, it’s still delicate and refined in tone. Storey’s drumming has elsewhere been described as pin-sharp and indeed there is no better way to describe it, especially when he plays in sync with Chaplin, whose bass is pliant and graceful.

The beautiful sound of Jouska owes much to recording straight to tape, you may find yourself wanting to applaud solos (such as Chaplin’s in Bibi) so strong is the sense of immediacy, of being in the room. But it’s possibly not just technology that prompts this feeling: this is a trio that breathes as one and this enjoyable album has the spontaneity and fun of a gig. Much needed at this time.

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