JAF Trio ‘JAF Trio’ LP/CD (We Jazz) 3/5

JAF Trio is a promising young Finnish-Danish band featuring saxophonist Adele Sauros, bassist Joonas Tuuri and drummer Frederik Emil Bülow. After a string of lauded live performances over the past couple of years (the band was awarded the “We Jazz Rising Star” accolade at We Jazz Festival in 2017), the trio felt ready to hit the studio and record their debut album.

Stylistically I am reminded of sax-bass-drums trios such as JD Allen and Chris Bowden; strong compositions with well-integrated musicianship being the order of the day. And although JAF Trio doesn’t hit the heights of the aforementioned artists, they appear to be developing a similar feel and focus. They are a tight unit, with a keen perspective on where they want the jazz to take them, performing very well together as a unified threesome.

The sax, bass and drums are right there at the forefront together, creating a strong presence. The original material of the band has depth and groove alike, at times leaping forward with giant steps, at times calming things down to really stretch time. The music is pleasingly melodic and rhythmic, with a nice balance between organisation and improvisation.

There’s a great feel to tunes like “Nostalgia” with its driving bass and drums laying the foundation for some excellent grooves and soloing. I also very much like the way this trio is confident enough to mix things up a little. Small, mature touches like allowing each other the room to manoeuvre on a tune and intuitively dropping back or coming to the fore, depending on the feel of the music as it develops. There’s a keen sense of playfulness in the repetitive riffing on “Something New” and an air of sombre melancholy on “Shades of Tomorrow”, revealing a more reflective side to the trio.

JAF Trio show a lot of promise on this, their first studio recording. There’s kinetic energy throughout the album which makes for compelling listening. Definitely a trio to keep an eye on, it’ll be interesting to hear how they develop in the years ahead.

Mike Gates