Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

382

The Bad Plus: Prog

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Free from the confines of major label machinery, The Bad Plus returns to its independent roots fully rejuvenated with Prog, its fifth studio album and first on its own Do The Math imprint (distributed by Heads Up). Although a three-album tenure on Columbia Records brought The Bad Plus far greater recognition than its self-titled 2001 debut on the indie label Fresh Sound, it also seemed to gradually sap the trio of its vivaciousness.

What was once a mark of distinction has become ubiquitous, as numerous jazz artists now mine the same contemporary pop landscape for inspiration. More than just masterful improvisers with a penchant for recasting unlikely populist material into ripe frameworks for improvisation, The Bad Plus delivers some of its finest writing to date. The infectious originals (mostly penned by bassist Reid Anderson) easily hold their own to the selected cover tunes, no easy feat considering their iconoclastic nature.

Drawn from an array of authors, including Tears For Fears, David Bowie, Rush and Burt Bacharach, these covers all share a common denominator in piano-based melodies. The group's previous cover choices, by artists such as Black Sabbath, Nirvana and The Pixies, were predominantly guitar-based compositions. Focusing on piano-driven tunes, the trio digs deeper, securing a tangible connection with the material, no matter how far out they take it.

"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" retains its bittersweet optimism, with subtly surprising interjections peppering the singular theme. David Bowie's glam anthem "Life On Mars" is given a fittingly grandiose reading, swelling from gallant introspection to dizzying climax. "Tom Sawyer" marches past familiar riffs into frenetic territory. The most traditional inclusion, "This Guy's In Love With You," is elastically deconstructed through witty call-and-response variations and tight interplay, without ever leaving the core melody behind.

The originals are equally rewarding. "Giant" is a handsome melody, accented by a contagious bass motif and nuanced group interaction. The pulverizing epic, "Physical Cities," alternates supple melodic variations with kinetic riffing and throttling bombast, delivered with an intensity absent from the trio's last long-player. "The World Is The Same" spirals from a restrained, haunting theme into an apocalyptic whirlwind and back again. "Thriftstore Jewelry" is a jittery blast of Latin rhythms and jubilant playing, mirrored by the manic barrelhouse sprint of the exuberant set closer, "1980 World Champion."

Coming into their own as both deft interpreters and singular writers, the members of The Bad Plus stand tall among their peers. With muscular conviction and steely focus, Prog is the sound of a much heralded ensemble rising to the occasion and fulfilling the hype.


Track Listing: Everybody Wants To Rule The World; Physical Cities; Life On Mars; Mint; Giant; Thriftstore Jewelry; Tom Sawyer; This Guy's In Love With You; The World is The Same; 1980 World Champion.

Personnel: Reid Anderson: bass; Ethan Iverson: piano; David King: drums.

Title: Prog | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Heads Up International


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Story Tellers" CD/LP/Track Review Story Tellers
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 26, 2017
Read "The Pauper And The Magician" CD/LP/Track Review The Pauper And The Magician
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Forage" CD/LP/Track Review Forage
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Speechless" CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!