Back in 2007I wrote that the Rave Tesar Trio’s album You Decide was one of the best jazz albums I heard that year. I do not easily toss off superlatives like that. Such claims often come back to bite you in the back or put an undue burden upon the artist’s next album. How could any artist live up to the expectations now set? But I wrote what I heard and felt. Both the Rave Tesar Trio and I would have to live with the consequences. Well, three years have passed and we’re both doing fine. You never have to fear the truth.
Pianist Rave Tesar, his brother drummer Bill Tesar and bassist Kermit Driscoll have been collaborating for 30 years. One listen to the Rave Tesar Trio’s new album Defragment Now, which contains 6 of Rave Tesar’s compositions and 3 standards, verifies the great empathy that three decades of playing music together can create.
The standards were all improvised and recorded without any rehearsals. Rave Tesar’s single note run preamble to “What Is This Thing Called Love” seamlessly meets-up with his soon to be swinging rhythm section. Kermit Driscoll’s forlorn bass on “Alone Together” ushers in Tesar’s piano for a performance evocative of Bill Evans. The saddest and slowest version ever heard of “There Is No Business Like Show Business” finds the trio telling another side. Bill Tesar’s brush work is remarkable on this piece.
Rave Tesar’s original compositions already sound like standards to me. The trio performs these melodious, inventive and flowing numbers with the same confidence and flair usually reserved for those great tunes that have become part of the jazz canon.—Walter Kolosky
Walter Kolosky is a jazz journalist and the author of the books “Power, Passion and Beauty” and “Follow Your Heart”: John McLaughlin — Song By Song.