The Bad Plus
These Are The Vistas
Review by Steve Guttenberg
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CD Stock Number: Columbia CK 87040
The Bad Plus? Say what? It’s jazz, but with feeling. Yeah, I know that’s the point of jazz, or should be, but so much contemporary stuff is either too studied or difficult. The Bad Plus is real jazz all right, but it’s fun. Sure, jazz purists like Wynton Marsalis won’t approve – no matter – if The Bad Plus gains any traction jazz is going to reach a new and younger crowd.
The Bad Plus is a trio -- fleet of finger bassist Reid Anderson, hard-hitting pianist Ethan Iverson, and gonzo drummer David King. These guys can really play, and the entire album was recorded “live” in a studio – no edits, no overdubs or studio trickery. These Are The Vistas was produced by my hero, Tchad Blake. You’ll know Blake, he twirled the knobs for Los Lobos, the Latin Playboys, Peter Gabriel, Pearl Jam, Suzanne Vega, and Elvis Costello. Vistas is his first jazz title.
The three guys are jazzers all right, but there’s a bit of edge, a drive that you just don’t get from even the best of the young jazz greats like Jason Moran, Matthew Ship or Joshua Redman. What’s so amazing about
The Bad Plus is the way they mix rock power with jazz freedom, without diluting either. The trio doesn’t seem to have a leader, the three guys are constantly vying for attention, sorta Who like, but the interplay -- tight, and yet loose – anything can happen at anytime.
Each band member contributed original compositions and they’ve "deconstructed" three pop tunes – Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Blondie’s” Heart of Glass," and Aphex Twin's
The CD’s awesome closing cut, “Silence is the Question,” begins so quietly, and then builds circling waves of raw energy, and then winds back down, spent. Man, I have goosebumps writing this for you, it’s that good.
Sound Quality: 80