The Bad Plus [2001]

The Bad Plus

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The Bad Plus [2001] Review

by David R. Adler

Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and Minneapolis-based drummer David King are the Bad Plus, and they bill themselves as "the loudest piano trio ever." Upon hearing them play, one is not inclined to quibble. In any case, they're certainly the only jazz group to cover ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon" on the same disc. Iverson and Anderson each contribute two previously unrecorded originals. King, for his part, penned the persistently grooving "1972 Bronze Medalist." Loud they may be, they're also finely attuned to dynamic contrasts, particularly on Anderson's "The Breakout." Listeners never quite know what they're going to hear. A minor example: King's startlingly thunderous drum fill right before Anderson's bass solo on the closing track, "Love Is the Answer." A major example: the brilliant Nirvana cover, offered with a totally straight face, in which the famous opening guitar riff is transformed into a series of almost plodding half notes -- and that's just the start of it.

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