COURTESY MIKE DVORAK / HEADS UP INTERNATIONAL
Ethan Iverson, left, Reid Anderson and David King make up The Bad Plus.
Bassist shines in this rocking jazz trio
For three years running, this smart jazz trio has been one of my favorite bands around. The Bad Plus is one of those groups with enough musical savvy to garner fans from rock and jazz alike.
The Bad Plus
Do the Math Records / Heads Up International
The chemistry linking pianist Ethan Iverson, drummer David King and bassist Reid Anderson engages listeners with a solid blend of melody and dynamics that coalesces into one singular vision.
Anderson writes on the band's Web site that "like everything we do, (our new album) combines a lot of different influences without creating boundaries. We'll try almost everything -- as long as it makes good music."
While everyone contributes at least one composition into the album mix, Anderson stands out, in particular with his urban mood drama, "Physical Cities," and "The World is the Same," as agitated piano and percussion threaten, but ultimately fail, to overcome a calm and stoic melody line.
The Bad Plus continue to put their own unique signature on familiar pop and rock songs. The trio slows and strips down Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" to its bare essence, including a downright dreamy middle section.
Their takes on "Life on Mars" (David Bowie) and "Tom Sawyer" (Rush) are pretty faithful to the originals, and they bring out a wry sense of humor in Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "This Guy's in Love With You."
There's always a playful quality in the trio's interplay, and it comes to the forefront with the closing "1980 World Champion," written by King. It's a spry and propulsive piece that mainly chugs along with tambourine, tom toms and hand claps, but ends on a grace note with a little waltz. What fun!