Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Bad Plus - Prog

I am completely thrilled by this new record by Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and Dave King - collectively The Bad Plus. Lately I do admit to being especially taken by Ethan as a blogger and general thinker/sharer of thoughts. But this music is intense. It's vital and emotional. Yes, they cover Tears for Fears and Rush. But the originals are where it's at for me.

I feel like the Twin Cities-raised threesome could make just as valid a statement if they recorded all originals at the level of Anderson's "Physical Cities" (which I saw TBP perform both at the Lorraine Gordon tribute at Carnegie Hall last June during JVC Jazz Fest and at The Blue Note in September on the double bill with Jason Moran & The Bandwagon). For me, Anderson is the Bad Plus' ace in the hole. He is the secret weapon who is sort of aloof yet always there anchoring the ship (the analogy can be extended by the fact that Reid eschews the New York lifestyle, instead residing far from his trio mates in Barcelona, Spain and is almost entirely absent from Do The Math).

King, whom I originally had a distaste for when Give first came out, has really stepped up his game with his composition "Thriftstore Jewelry," an almost hummable though highly chromatic melody (at least I can whistle it - almost) which I seem to really dig for its odd-time yet overall simpleness. And having recently caught Dave with Ethan, Tim Berne and Mat Maneri as Buffalo Collision, the drummer has really captured me with his chops and his charm. He brings Elvin, Paul Motian, Han Bennink and Mitch Mitchell (obviously I don't know any rock drummers) to the table and mixes these influences to create a unique sound - which brings even greater poignancy to the covers. It's really fun to hear how he employs his so-called "jazz" sensibilities on rock songs - especially when he's very restrained and sparing with his use of the toms. His reprise of Suspicious Activity rocker "1980 World Champion" is equally enthralling.

I do have to say that The Burt Bacharach cover of "This Guy's In Love With You" really sweetens the deal on a record that will most certainly be a lot of hipsters' Top 10s this year - most certainly this hipster.

Rock on dudes!

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The Bad Plus - Prog

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