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New York pianist and composer Rave Tesar has been on the scene since the early 1980s. His strong playing, highlighted by his inventive improvisational skills, has made him an in-demand session player for years. His acoustic trio for this straight-ahead recording is rounded out with Kermit Driscoll (Bill Frisell, Buddy Rich, Patti Austin) on bass and Rave's brother Bill (Angela Bofill, Bob Berg, Mark Feldman) on drums. They present ten of Rave's compositions, expertly recorded. They are, without exception, finely crafted pieces performed with feeling and aplomb.
The opening "The Scale Song" is instantly recognizable as deserving of standard status. Rave Tesar's introductory chords, sounding a bit like Brubeck, set the stage for upper register single note runs that sound nothing like Brubeck, with Driscoll and Bill Tesar playing a strong and supportive role. Driscoll doubles much of the melody on upright.
Driscoll and Bill Tesar's considerable talents are spotlighted time and time again throughout the album. On the beautiful ballad "Someone Else's Spell," Driscoll carries the melody as Tesar impresses on brushes and with his wonderful cymbal work.
"Minas" is a focal point for all three players to swing and show their Latin chops. (Throughout the album Tesar's piano playing very often, but not always, suggests various degrees of a Latin pedigree). Full chords and smooth runs mark Tesar's playing on this piece. An excited bass and hot rhythm-keeping make you want to get out of your seat. This tune is followed by "Helium," featuring a deep and meaningful head followed by a swinging undertow.
On this album it is really easy to decide. This is all great stuff. The Rave Tesar Trio's You Decide is one of the best albums of 2007. It is full of inventive compositions, played with great skill and fluidity.
Track Listing: The Scale Song; Minor Mood; Have Some More; You Decide; The Vision; Everyone But Me; Nobody's at Nobody's; Someone Else's Spell; Minas; Helium.
Personnel: Rave Tesar: piano; Kermit Driscoll: bass; Bill Tesar: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.