The Bad Plus is likely responsible for single-handedly changing my whole view of jazz music. Prior to discovering their revolutionary These Are the Vistas, I was stuck listening to a lot of hard bop, mostly from the Blue Note catalog. They opened my eyes to a fresh, new and exciting take on jazz music, which is one of the main reason this site was created in the first place. Thank you The Bad Plus. The same can be said for Joshua Redman, who since winning the Monk Competition in 1991, has had a prolific career. I remember listening to Elastic and Momentum ad nauseam. Same thing can be said of his most recent James Farm albums. So it’s only fitting that these two groundbreaking forces of jazz music would eventually collide. Catch a full set by The Bad Plus Joshua Redman filmed last year at the Detroit Jazz Festival below. Their collaborative self-titled album is scheduled to drop next week, but can be streamed on NPR’s First Listen until then. Enjoy!
The Bad Plus, the highly-lauded modern-day legendary trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King, continually push forward as artists, making music that always distinctly sounds like them while uncovering new places to take their sound. One of their compatriots is saxophonist Joshua Redman, who always compliments this group with a melodicism that he brings to everything else he touches. While Redman and TBP have played together before in live settings for various projects, it was only a matter of time before they all came together in earnest. This May finally brings this configuration together with The Bad Plus Joshua Redman on the Nonesuch label. Check out a stream of the old gem, "Dirty Blonde" (one of the only two TBP oldies you may know, the other seven tracks are new compositions), after the jump.
In 14 years together as a group, rhythms get to be familiar. This thematically was what I was getting at in the preview piece I wrote for the San Antonio Current of The Bad Plus' show last night at San Antonio's Aztec Theater. There's a sense of familiarity in the rhythm, a knowledge of direction. When I asked them how they do what they do, for example, in Reid Anderson's composition, "Physical Cities" off 2007's Prog (a song the trio unfortunately didn't play last night, something just a tad too complicated and a little too far back in their catalog to perform with the level of precision these guys are proud to demonstrate in every show), while I expected some sort of breakdown of specific counting, a lesson of polyrhythms that couldn't possibly have been conveyed to such a tender-minded admirer in the span of time of the tail end of a dinner break, Iverson jokingly answered they did so through telepathy. One might over 14 years of playing together and building such a body of work, most recently with Inevitable Western on the Sony-OKeh label, seriously consider that as a possibility.
It had been raining quite a bit in Austin lately. For much of September, really, South Texas had been getting some much needed rain to replenish the Edwards Aquifer and to quell the talk of drought year after year. Normally, this rain would be welcome, but The Bad Plus' performance at The Belmont on Saturday the 28th would be outdoors; besides the interesting adaptations the famed trio had to make during their soundcheck, the concerns about weather were more than significant. Nevertheless, rain or shine, the show must go on, and go on it did.
Consider for a moment the career arc of The Bad Plus. When the trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King burst onto the scene with their swirling, intricate, playful compositions and head-turning rock covers back in the early aughts, music fans the world over had strong opinions about what this music was -- jazz or otherwise -- and where this group would go. Over more than a decade, this group has dazzled us with their albums from their first major release in 2003, These Are The Vistas, to their latest album, Made Possible. In fact, Made Possible appears to be a return to form for the dynamic trio after their rather vocal (pun intended) left turn with 2008's For All I Care featuring Wendy Lewis and what came off as a checkpoint in their sojourn back to their trademark sound with 2010's Never Stop. Nevertheless, Made Possible, available on Entertainment One Music, is the group's finest album since 2007's Prog and the clear logical next step for a trio that has arguably changed the game in the jazz genre.