Dave Young’s Lotus Blossom can be considered something of a byproduct, but these performances never betray that fact. Recorded at the same 2016 session that yielded the venerated bassist’s Juno-nominated One Way Up, it’s a solid reminder that an album’s offerings often belie its origins.
Focusing largely on first takes that, with only one exception, are presented in the order they were recorded, this collection operates with a no-fuss mentality. And with some of Canada’s best along for the trip—including pianist Renee Rosnes, one of that country’s finest expats, and drummer Terry Clarke, a legend in his own right—it should come as no surprise that this seven-song set makes for a comfortable and beautiful ride.
Starting things off with the title track, Rosnes and Young each steal the spotlight while lending buoyancy to Billy Strayhorn’s composition. Then Young checks off a number of stylistic boxes on the way down the playlist. Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “Modinha” serves as the requisite Brazilian gem, opening with an air of mystery and showcasing guitarist Reg Schwager once it settles in. Charlie Parker’s “Red Cross” fulfills the bop requirement while giving Clarke a chance to gleefully trade solos with Schwager. A zesty take on Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia,” with Bernie Senensky taking over on piano, adds a touch of spice and soulfulness to the program. And an album-ending “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” brings the moody and mellifluous horns of trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and tenor saxophonist Perry White into the picture.
While moving through various styles and configurations on this date, Dave Young consistently remains in his element. Even as he nears octogenarian status, his bass remains vital.