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.
Over the weekend, the Twitter account for The Bad Plus (which Ethan Iverson recently announced is now being run by Jason Tors) posted an hour long video of the trio performing at the 36th Victoria-Gasteix Jazz Festival with saxophonist Joshua Redman back in July. The performance, which covers various selections from the group's decade-long span, is definitely worth a watch.