REVIEW: Tamás Teszáry Quartet at Jazz Café Posk

L-R: Imre Varga, Peter Bakaja, Tamás Teszáry

Tamás Teszáry Quartet 
(Jazz Café Posk, 14 April 2018. Review by Peter Jones)

With a weakness for vibes and an admiration for Tamás Teszáry’s recent Bopcore album, I’d been looking for an opportunity to catch the band live. And thanks to a late cancellation, the chance came up at Posk last Saturday. Considering the short notice, this mostly-Hungarian outfit acquitted themselves brilliantly: it was bop-inspired music of rare quality. Both as a composer and player Teszáry has obviously bathed his brain in the sounds of Blue Note in general and Bobby Hutcherson in particular. As a band, they listened to and played off each other with great skill, freedom and enjoyment; in other words, this was jazz as it’s meant to be played.

The chemistry between pianist Imre Varga and Brazilian-born drummer Cyro Zuzi was clear for all to see, as they egged each other on, seemingly sharing little musical jokes throughout the gig. In contrast to the others, Peter Bakaja floated serenely above it all, barely moving a muscle while firing off electric bass lines of extraordinary speed and complexity. Meanwhile vibraphonist Teszáry looked on with a benevolent smile… as well he might because, excellent though the album is, the live renditions of these tunes were even better.

There was a fraternal nod to Béla Bartók in Mikrokosmos Blues (pianists will be familiar with the composer’s teaching guides of that name composed between 1926 and 1939), its deceptively simple riff carried mainly by bass and piano amid angular chords and jagged drums. Sweetness and melancholy characterizes many of these tunes, such as In Between Stations, which drifts along, beautifully conveying the sense of impermanence implied in the title.

But these gentle, melodic qualities are counter-balanced by a devotion to bebop and the Hutcherson-like riff, as in The Cycle of Life and Compass. Midnight Drive is the sort of cool swinging tune that would have accompanied a BBC2 drama of the 1960s. They encored with an original take on So What, rendering the old chestnut fresh all over again.

The Tamás Teszáry Quartet don’t seem to play that often, so I say to any promoters out there – book ‘em! You won’t regret it.

LINK: Tamás Teszáry website

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