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Live Review: The Bad Plus at Colston Hall

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Tuesday May 14, 2013

from classical-music.com (The official website of BBC Music Magazine)

Neil McKim enjoys a Bristol concert by jazz misfits The Bad Plus
by Neil McKim

This was one of the most good-humoured concerts I have seen for a long time… and for the right reasons. The audience was in stitches after a five-minute meandering introduction to a song, apparently inspired by a 1960s stuntman who kept turtles… and who hung out with Steve McQueen… and who liked baloney sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised at this mirth as I was watching The Bad Plus, an American jazz band that is best-known for its relentlessly aggressive musical approach.

Over the last decade The Bad Plus (pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King) has maintained a reputation for tearing up the rulebook when it comes to jazz trio performance. They are often portrayed as throwing aside older forms of jazz and instead recreating a contemporary format that is heavily influenced by other genres, as demonstrated by infamous cover versions, ranging from heavy metal’s Black Sabbath to Abba or to dance music’s Aphex Twin. Their tracks, whether cover versions or their own, have a beguiling ability to lull a listener into a calm state and then to rip up the floorboards in a ferocious audio assault.

As I sat watching the trio in Bristol last weekend I couldn’t really see what all the critical ‘fuss’ has been about. The band, although now older than when they first burst on to the worldwide scene in the early 2000s, has survived some very varied reviews in the UK over the years.

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