Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and Minneapolis-based drummer David King are the Bad Plus, and they bill themselves as "the loudest piano trio ever." Upon hearing them play, one is not inclined to quibble. In any case, they're certainly the only jazz group to cover ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" on the same disc. Iverson and Anderson each contribute two previously unrecorded originals. King, for his part, penned the persistently grooving "1972 Bronze Medalist."
For longtime fans of genre-bending jazz piano trio the Bad Plus, 2016's It's Hard will feel pleasantly familiar. Once again showcasing the talents of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King, It's Hard finds the Bad Plus reworking a set of well-curated pop covers. In that sense, the album fits nicely next to the group's previous covers albums, all of which helped build their reputation as a maverick, forward-thinking outfit unafraid to recontextualize both modern pop songs and traditional acoustic jazz. Particularly effective here is the trio's languid, impressionistic take on Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over."
One of the most compelling modern groups in jazz does it again – taking the simple piano trio format and giving it a spin that's sure to catch even the most wary of ears! These guys aren't exactly funky, but they play in a freely rhythmic style that brings new life to anything they touch – and honestly, they're one of the few groups in jazz who could cover recent pop material and actually make us like it! There's an approach here that's almost in the mode of Medeski Martin & Wood – with open and experimental, yet still rhythmic and swinging – and always a fresh delight overall.
Postmodern jazz trio the Bad Plus has caused a fair amount of debate in the jazz world with their mixture of post-bop vocabulary, rock-influenced feel, and D.I.Y. attitude. SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY?–the band's third album–is unlikely to settle any of those debates. With their funky, deconstructionist cover of Vangelis's "(Theme from) Chariots of Fire" and their shape-shifting originals, the Bad Plus are full of surprises. The band excels equally at driving compositions ("Anthem for the Earnest") that draw on the punchy, bass-fueled energy of rock, and off-kilter lyricism like the jittery, poetic "Knows the Difference." Drummer David King plays like a cross between Elvin Jones and John Bonham, while pianist Ethan Iverson sweeps all over the keyboard with classical flourishes and punk aggression. Whether or not the Bad Plus fit your idea of jazz, SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY? is an intriguing listen.
It's in the opening moments of "I Hear You," the first track on Inevitable Western: the mercurial, mysterious, yet utterly musical sense of adventure that lies at the heart of the Bad Plus' sound. After recording the rigorous, mathematically challenging score for Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring – released only six months prior to this – one can almost hear relief in the trio's return to its own universe. These nine tracks are equally divided compositionally among bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson, and drummer Dave King.
A superstar jazz matchup, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman features maverick trio the Bad Plus joined by acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. Recorded after the group's weeklong stint at New York's Blue Note jazz club in 2012, the album is an organic collaboration between Redman and Bad Plus members pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King. Largely known for their genre-bending compositional take on jazz, here the Bad Plus take a more improvisational, open-ended approach to group interplay.