Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

370

The Bad Plus: The Bad Plus

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Is there another group that excels this well at not taking themselves seriously?



The Bad Plus are earning raves as either stupendous or just plain stupid for their radical interpretations of pop standards, making their major label debut on 2003's These Are The Vistas and following up with 2004's Give . But as is the case with many artists, there's also a number of small-label releases of interest to fans—and one is relatively easy to obtain without resorting to bootleg hunting or paying inflated prices for imports.



The Bad Plus (also known as Motel ), the group's 2000 debut album, contains all the madness of their latter big-label releases. Compositions are divided evenly between reinterpretations and originals. There only real shortcoming is the relatively short 45-minute eight-song length.



The raging debate is whether the Bad Plus represent a truly new voice and direction in jazz, or just undisciplined chord-crunching rock instrumentals. Convincing doubters is probably a futile exercise, so fans might as well have a good laugh—and then a serious listen—as the group turns songs like ABBA's "Knowing Me Knowing You" on their collective heads.



The group, as always, is most effective on reinterpretations because the easy frame of reference makes it much easier to hear their departure from the norm. But the originals—such as the lush ballad collides with hard rock/free jazz "The Breakout"—all certainly hold up on their own.



The opening ABBA tune gets the trio's usual discordant twists at mid-tempo, at times dragging like a tape player running on low battery power, with pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King dominating the foreground. Bassist Reid Anderson shines on a hyper-speed treatment of Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Moon" that makes the original sound like a carnival parody.



A couple of songs from their breakthrough These Are The Vistas are here, including the popular retake of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," but there's just enough difference in soloing—if not the main structure—to make the auditions worthwhile.



Overlooked by some, perhaps, is this group's compositional and improvisational skills. Those listening to more than the surface romps—which sometimes might be easier if the tempos were slowed to half speed—will hear complex and seemingly contradictory ideas performed remarkable well on the fly. If there is musical sophistication in the jam band concept, this trio does it as well as anyone.



Those with the interest and bankroll to explore more work by the group might look first to Iverson's 1998 album Deconstruction Zone , another disassembly of standards, then to 1999's The Minor Passions and Anderson's 2000 release The Vastness Of Space. Fans wanting a freebie and/or a chance to learn more about the group can watch a 54-minute performance/interview video from National Public Radio.

Track Listing: Knowing Me Knowing You; Blue Moon; 1972 Bronze Medalist; The Breakout; Smells Like Teen Spirit; Labyrinth; Scurry; Love Is The Answer.

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

Title: The Bad Plus | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Wolf Out

Wolf Out

The Bad Plus
Made Possible

Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Opinion
Album Reviews
  • Give by Simon Calle
Read more articles
Never Stop II

Never Stop II

Legbreaker Records
2018

buy
It's Hard

It's Hard

Okeh
2017

buy
The Bad Plus Joshua Redman

The Bad Plus Joshua...

Nonesuch Records
2015

buy
The Bad Plus: The Rite Of Spring

The Bad Plus: The...

Sony Masterworks
2014

buy
The Rite of Spring

The Rite of Spring

Sony Masterworks
2014

buy
Never Stop

Never Stop

E1 Music
2012

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
May31Fri
The Bad Plus
Café Berlin
Madrid, Spain
Jun25Tue
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jun25Tue
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jun26Wed
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jun26Wed
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jun27Thu
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
Jun27Thu
The Bad Plus
Jazz Standard
New York, NY

Related Articles

Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019
Read Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You Album Reviews
Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
By Dan McClenaghan
May 24, 2019
Read Nexus Album Reviews
Nexus
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 23, 2019
Read The Second Coming Album Reviews
The Second Coming
By Daniel Barbiero
May 23, 2019
Read Luminária Album Reviews
Luminária
By John Sharpe
May 23, 2019