All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Extended Analysis

10

The Bad Plus: The Bad Plus: The Rite Of Spring

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Calculation and risk, bombast and glory, a complete shunning of expectations, and a penchant for the provocative, percussive and dramatic. It's hard to know if that description is meant to be applied to Igor Stravinsky's most heralded work or the collectively-operated trio known as The Bad Plus; it's hard to make that distinction because it rings true for both.

One hundred years separate the premiere of The Rite Of Spring, which caused a riot, and the recording of this album. In the interim, everything has changed and nothing has changed. Listeners still get lulled into and out of comfort zones, they confront music that's accepting of conventions and music that challenges them, and they use the weight of history and the pull of the present and future as counterbalancing forces in viewing art. Audiences nowadays won't likely be stirred into a frenzy over this music, but it remains potent and intoxicating, both in its original form and as presented here.

The idea of (re)interpreting this work came about several years before the album actually did. Duke Performances at Duke University and Lincoln Center Out of Doors commissioned The Bad Plus to create an "evening-length work." The group had already dealt with Stravinsky's music, having recorded "Variation d' Apollon" on For All I Care (Heads Up, 2009), so that success encouraged these three men to take a crack at the famed composer's most celebrated work for this commission. And that was just the beginning. The hard part, no doubt, came with score studies, practice, and distillation of ideas and themes. The Bad Plus had to break down this complex work and build it back up again, so as to realize the composer's intentions with only piano, bass, and drums.

The work premiered in March of 2011, and it saw more than a dozen performances the following year. By the time The Bad Plus recorded it, in June of 2013, the band was fully at peace and at war with the music; in short, this trio was dealing it out the way it should be dealt. Instead of creating a slapdash version or a "jazz" take on this work, The Bad Plus simply performs this not-so-simple piece. Sure, some liberties were taken and adjustments were made. That's a given just based on instrumentation alone. The end result, however, is largely loyal to what Stravinsky put on paper. The familiar graceful gestures from the "Introduction" are still there, the pounding accents of "The Augurs Of Spring" still make an impact, and the divinely grotesque nature of "Glorification Of The Chosen One" remains. But plenty of changes are also in the air; the pulsating heartbeat that ushers in the album and the steady groove that introduces "Dance Of The Earth" are but two of the many firm indications that this isn't a paint-by-numbers reduction of the score.

There's much to enjoy and admire here. Pummeling ordinances and schizophrenic gestures take hold, a basic back-and-forth connection between pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Reid Anderson is established during "Spring Rounds," repetitive cycling ideals take "Procession Of The Sage" toward its end, and the timpani-esque rumblings of drummer David King cause a stir during "Evocation Of The Ancestors." This is history and modern day life coming together as one. It's a recording for the ages.

Track Listing: First Part: Adoration Of The Earth-Introduction; The Augurs Of Spring; Ritual Abduction; Spring Rounds; Games Of Two Rival Tribes/Procession Of The Sage; The Sage/Dance Of The Earth.

Second Part: The Sacrifice-Introduction; Mystic Circle Of The Young Girls; Glorification Of The Chosen One; Evocation Of The Ancestors/Ritual Action Of The Ancestors; Sacrificial Dance.

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

Title: The Bad Plus: The Rite Of Spring | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Sony Masterworks

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Wolf Out

Wolf Out

The Bad Plus
Made Possible

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
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

Related Articles

Read Greatest Other People's Hits Extended Analysis
Greatest Other People's Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967 Extended Analysis
Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967
by Doug Collette
Published: September 8, 2018
Read Naima/Live in Berlin Extended Analysis
Naima/Live in Berlin
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2018
Read Kaya 40 Extended Analysis
Kaya 40
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 25, 2018
Read Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: August 4, 2018
Read Wodgi Extended Analysis
Wodgi
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "The Vintage Years 1970 - 1991" Extended Analysis The Vintage Years 1970 - 1991
by John Kelman
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Greatest Other People's Hits" Extended Analysis Greatest Other People's Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read "Love, Gloom, Cash, Love" Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Wodgi" Extended Analysis Wodgi
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" Extended Analysis Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "The Last Night At The Old Place" Extended Analysis The Last Night At The Old Place
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 1, 2018