I only knew the Bad Plus from their excellent jazz covers of rock songs and I actually was completely unaware that they were doing their own material for some time.
No matter; this band is incredible. I can’t decide who was the most impressive:
- their drummer was totally awesome – using his small kit in some really interesting ways and really making each “chorus” different from the last
- the bassist was restrained much of the time but could really play when he soloed or filled.
- And the piano player, who I thought might have made a bum note or two, was mostly also incredible. [I have seen them since and decided that I really underrated the pianist this time out.]
I mean, they were incredible musicians but that wasn’t really the most impressive thing. The most impressive thing was actually how they could seeming play everything: from the avant garde constant time switching and atonal solos to jamming that was so catchy it might even be described as poppy. Normally a band might play one or the other but these guys were seemingly at home in practically every conceivable style of modern, piano-based jazz – not including things like boogie – and lots of music that would not fit into any normal conception of jazz.
They’d shift from totally inaccessible avant garde to grooves at the drop of a hat, and it was just incredible. They showed an ability to play really quietly in addition to their normal, extraordinarily raucous (for a piano trio) sound, which owes a lot to rock music – which makes sense given their origins as a ‘jazz covers of rock music’ group.
Just an incredible show. I can’t decide whether this was the best show I saw this year or whether it was Secret Chiefs 3 back in May.
What a show.