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Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017

John Kelman By

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It's impossible to know, without speaking to the guitarist, how things are 13 years later, but it sure feels like he continues to work at evolving his concept. Always a particularly fluid player, Rosenwinkel was in particularly fine form with The Bad Plus, creating remarkable phrases that leapt across his strings horizontally, but also moved with ease up and down the neck, executing remarkable leaps and chordal voicings that were as personal to him as Ben Monder's were the previous evening, in his performance with Ingrid & Christine Jensen.

But this performance was not just about how strong Rosenwinkel was, and how much he brought to TBP; this was a quartet of players equally matched but constantly pushing and pulling each other throughout a set that drew on These Are the Vistas—specifically Anderson's irregularly metered "Big Eater" and Iverson's particularly satisfying "Guilty"—and 2004 Columbia follow-up, Give's "Dirty Blonde" (another Anderson tune), to Iverson's pre-Bad Plus composition "Neon" ("Ethan's favourite gas," Anderson also added, dryly), from the pianist's The Minor Passions (Fresh Sound New Talent, 1999) and, culled from TBP's collaboration with saxophonist Joshua Redman (the aptly named The Bad Plus and Joshua Redman (Nonesuch, 2015)), Anderson's slowly building, show-stopping set-closer "Silence is the Question," which ultimately peaked...and then slowly faded to black.

Iverson—a long-avowed, atypical non-fan of Bill Evans who, instead, cites Thelonious Monk as a primary influence in his early days, performed with a perfect blend of power and elegance, his solos motivically building, idea upon idea, with spontaneous construction. Anderson, always a rock solid anchor, soloed with a similar combination of delicate lyricism and robust tone. King, who often tended to overwhelm the group in its early days, was still a forced with which to be reckoned, but has evolved into a far subtler drummer, even though he was still capable of frenzied accompaniment when called for. Together, they seemed to be communicating on a far deeper level than back when they were the much- hyped critics' darlings. Sometimes it's better for time to pass, for the music and the musicians to evolve, and for the music to speak for itself.

Which it most certainly did throughout the set. For whatever it may be worth, experiencing TBP fourteen years after it's over-hyped days, in particular with Rosenwinkel, was enough to make a true believer out of even the most jaded. The disappointing news is that Iverson has decided to leave The Bad Plus after roughly 17 years—finishing out his 2017 commitments before being replaced (if that is even an appropriate word) by Orrin Evans, a fine pianist in his own right, with his own fine track record, but who will, no doubt, significantly alter the trio's complexion.

Still, with the band's announcement clearly presenting this major change in a most positive light, while it's unfortunate that there won't be another opportunity to catch the original lineup on its own after this evening's epiphany, the next time the group comes to a nearby festival on its own, it will still absolutely remain high on the list of "must-see" events.

July 2: Kurt Rosenwinkel, Caipi, L'Astral

After such a strong set the previous night with The Bad Plus, expectations were high—and, for those who'd not yet heard it, so was curiosity—for Kurt Rosenwinkel's first FIJM performance since his stellar New Quartet show in 2013, touring in support of his equally superb Star of Jupiter (Wommusic, 2012).

This year, guitarist/vocalist Rosenwinkel has been touring a new album, Caipa, that he described, during his packed, 100-minute performance at L'Astral, as "Brazilian, jazz, rock and other things." And, indeed, with a brand new sextet that featured three musicians from Brazil (guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Pedro Martins, bassist/vocalist Frederico Heliodoro and percussionist/vocalist Antonio Loureiro), along with German pianist/keyboardist/vocalist Olivia Trummer and American drummer Bill Campbell - Guitar, there was plenty of Brazilian vibe to be found, along with some higher-powered rock energy, plenty of the sophisticated jazz language that has defined Rosenwinkel since he first came onto the scene in the mid-'90s...and, indeed, more.

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