The Bad Plus/ Jason Moran make NPR's top 50 albums of the decade

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Monday January 04, 2010

Supplied by: NPR
Contributing writer: Patrick Jarenwattananon,

These Are the Vistas
Artist: The Bad Plus
Song: Smells Like Teen Spirit

The fact that most everybody in the stratified jazz world was talking about this record in 2003 is evidence enough of its importance. But the real coup lies in the fact that it got people outside jazz to listen. That’ll happen when you play covers of Nirvana, Aphex Twin and Blondie as an acoustic piano trio. But there’s far more than novelty appeal at work here: The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and Dave King reverently used the tunes as frameworks for distinct, original improvisation, aided by knottily textured originals, nutso percussion and bass that would challenge a car’s Alpine subwoofer. Love it or hate it, it was impossible to ignore — and the musical ideas had staying power, too. — Patrick Jarenwattananon

Black Stars
Artist: Jason Moran
Song: Skitter In

Jazz has spent the last 50 years dealing with both the promise and difficulties posed by free improvisation. On his third album, a 26-year-old Jason Moran embraced jazz’s potential for dazzling brilliance by couching it in an inclusive, even schizoid take on jazz history. He embraces post-bop as readily as he reconfigures the music of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and early stride piano masters. The second step was to get multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers, a pioneer in making the avant-garde approachable, to guest-star at age 77. As it turns out, the final result is full of density and percussive pianism, but also warm moments of strained beauty, all supported by powerful technique from all involved. — Patrick Jarenwattananon

For NPR’s full list click here