Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Bad Plus - Live at the Blue Note, NYC 3/20/08

So if you haven't heard of The Bad Plus yet, you should really jump on the bandwagon. A contemporary jazz trio that really brings the house down, they guys are incredibly talented at each of their respective instruments.

(photo of the guys backstage before playing Late Night with Conan O'Brien)

Ethan Iverson, pianist, is the ultimate intellectual nerd. Funny and utterly amusing, Iverson tells elaborate stories that introduce and explain the following song - but always dressed in his usual suit and tie. One great story in particular was about a 1980 Olympic ski jumper who won the gold medal and then did a spontaneous dance in celebration on each of the next 365 days. The song was "1980 World Champion" off their newest album, Prog.

Reid Anderson, bassist, is an extremely talented musician, driving the songs forward and providing a unique texture to the band's sound.

The real gem of the band however, is drummer David King. King is originally from Minneapolis, so you know he's legit. When Brian McLeod left Mason Jennings' band to play for Atmosphere, King stepped in to record Boneclouds with Mason. King's abilities are only explained through first hand viewings, as his ridiculous control and energy seem to be from some superhuman entity, not a regular man from the Midwest. He can be playing incredibly fast but as quiet as you could imagine when, unexpectedly, he leaps from his chair to reach over and tickle the underside of his drums in one fluid and mind boggling motion. Without a doubt, I have no qualms about crowning him the best drummer in the world that I have ever seen or heard.

On the night I saw them, they were on fire from the first note. After playing two songs, including "Let Our Garden Grow," Iverson first addressed the crowd. Throughout the course of the night they played a slew of amazing tunes like "Cheney Pinata" and "Dirty Blond" ("in reference to the hair color" - Iverson).

And of course, they played one of their trademark rock covers. While some of their more famous ones are "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "We Are the Champions" and Aphex Twin's "Flim," we were lucky enough to catch Blondie's "Heart of Glass." An incredible arrangement, the guys took the song to a new level.

Unfortunately, about five drunk 20-somethings thought the Blue Note would be the perfect place to come after a pregaming session. Thanks for that.

However, the night was a great experience and I can't recommend a live show highly enough. The only way I can truly relay their performance is to leave you with a live clip of them playing Aphex Twin's "Flim." It's better quality sound and picture than the one I posted last time, so I hope you enjoy it. Make sure you check out King at around 1:44 and 3:00 - pure genius - and don't miss the drum tickle at 3:30.

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