Jazz Appreciation Society
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus - Bimhuis (Amsterdam)
No electronic devices will win a music battle from musicians of flesh and blood who take their music to the max. So much is clear after the concert from The Bad Plus in which the band played music from Ornette Coleman’s album Science Fiction. For this occasion the band was extended with a three-piece brass section and a laptop that double bass player Reid Anderson used to release some soundscapes and beats. Good for us that happened only occasionally because it wasn’t much more than “playing around” in the two fabulous sets the sextet played in the Bimhuis.
As a trio the range of covers The Bad Plus performs reaches from Black Sabbath to ABBA and from Rush to Stravinsky. Covers in which they pay their respect to the originals but made those originals completely their own. In the music from Ornette Coleman, with all its harmonic inventions and musical innovations, the band takes all the space they can get to make unbelieveable exciting music. In a ridiciously high level of music making, drummer David King, who probably doesn’t need more than just a snare drum to fill an evening show, swings and sings with his kit. It isn’t that often that I hear drums as an instrument of melody but Friday night this was the case.
Much of what is fascinating and exciting about The Bad Plus comes from the mesmerizing ease with which each band member can switch from the role of soloist to accompanist and back that prevents the music from becoming predictable. The aforementioned drumming of King is laying a foundation for his fellow band members but are solos in their own merit as well. The notes pianist Ethan Iverson extracts from his keyboard are drawn from a large palet that is not just stereotype jazz. Somewhere in the landscape where from Beethoven to Ligeti seeds were spread, Iverson picked his flowers of sound to colorize his solos. Solos that harboured memories of the complex scores in which Franz Liszt and Leopold Godowski searched for transcendental layers in their music. It resulted into genre transgressing music that took the listener to a place where sense was separated from nonsense and where freedom and inspiration promised a brand new day. It cumulated in a musical experience that grew butterflies in my stomach. Spring was finally here.
An extra plus to The Bad Plus is the aura of nerdiness that surrounds them. All is focussed on music making and the moment that music stops the stage presence of these musical giants borders on the shy. It is almost like they apologize for the fact they took two hours of our time. But they’re welcome. Anytime.
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On Blue Monday 2018 the Jazz Appreciation Society saw the light of day in bar RADIJS in the Amsterdam Westside. RADIJS (radish), place of conception, vegetable with a bite, an icon that we use on this website (wholly arbitrary) to express our appreciation for records and concerts.
Click the blue radish to go to the reviews on books.