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The Bad Plus

Are the Bad Plus a pop- and rock-influenced jazz trio? Or are they a power trio whose members like to play jazz? It's really a bit of both. But in the brave new world of postmodern jazz, identity crises are encouraged. Reid Anderson (bass) and David King (drums) grew up in Minnesota, while pianist Ethan Iverson spent his formative years in Wisconsin. Eventually, after crossing paths in such unlikely places as high-school rock showcases and tentative free jazz performances inside Upper Midwestern diners, the three first performed as the Bad Plus in 1990, but they would spend the '90s embracing separate influences, each musician developing a unique musical language that would gestate into the trio's iconoclastic jazz template. Anderson released three albums on the Spanish indie Fresh Sound, Iverson was music director of New York City's prestigious Mark Morris Dance Group, and King worked with his Happy Apple combo, as well as 12 Rods.

In August of 2001, the bandmembers put aside their other projects and released The Bad Plus through Fresh Sound. It established that the Bad Plus were unafraid to stray from the confines of jazz, but confident enough in their forays to make them stimulating, and not simply novelties. The debut was a critical success, garnering best-of honors from The New York Times and Chicago Reader, among others. An "official" bootleg followed in 2002, eventually going out of print.

It was a particularly memorable performance at New York's Village Vanguard that led Columbia Records to sign the Bad Plus; in February of 2003, the label released These Are the Vistas, which was produced by stranger-to-jazz and ex-Latin Playboy Tchad Blake. The album presented original compositions from each musician, as well as a few ringers from the musical world outside the borders of jazz. Their re-imaginings of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (which Iverson had reportedly never heard before), Blondie's "Heart of Glass," and Aphex Twin's "Flim" caused tails to wag, but it was the Bad Plus' powerful mixture of personality and performance that really defined them.

The Bad Plus toured throughout spring and summer 2003 in support of their major-label debut. The band's second album, Give, followed in spring 2004. For 2005's Suspicious Activity?, the trio produced the album with Blake at Real World Studios in England. PROG followed in 2007. In 2009 the Bad Plus teamed up with vocalist Wendy Lewis, adding a new dimension to the sound of their sixth album, For All I Care. The following year they continued to shake things up, releasing Never Stop, the group's first album of all-original material. The studio album Made Possible was released in September of 2012. After extensive touring and some side projects by the bandmembers, the Bad Plus returned to the studio and recorded their own version of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring. It was released by Sony Masterworks in March of 2014, followed by Inevitable Western, a collection of original material issued in August.

The trio then paired with saxophonist Joshua Redman for the 2015 collaborative effort The Bad Plus Joshua Redman. Stemming from a recording session that followed Redman and the Bad Plus' weeklong stint at New York's Blue Note jazz club in 2012, the album featured brand-new compositions as well as reworkings of the Bad Plus songs "Dirty Blonde" and "Silence Is the Question." The album also garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for Redman's performance on "Friend or Foe." In 2016, they returned with It's Hard, an eclectic collection of cover songs including reworkings of songs by Prince, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, Ornette Coleman, and others. ~ Johnny Loftus
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Inevitable Western

1. I Hear You

2. Gold Prisms Incorporated

3. Self Serve

4. You Will Lose All Fear

5. Do It Again

6. Epistolary Echoes

7. Adopted Highway

8. Mr. Now

9. Inevitable Western

x

Track List: Made Possible

1. Pound For Pound

2. Seven Minute Mind

3. Re-Elect That

4. Wolf Out

5. Sing For A Silver Dollar

6. For My Eyes Only

7. I Want To Feel Good Pt 2

8. In Stitches

9. Victoria

x

Track List: Never Stop

1. The Radio Tower Has A Beating Heart

2. Never Stop

3. You Are

4. My Friend Metatron

5. People Like You

6. Beryl Loves To Dance

7. Snowball

8. 2 Pm

9. Bill Hickman At Home

10. Super America

x

Track List: For All I Care

1. Lithium

2. Comfortably Numb

3. Fem

4. Radio Cure

5. Long Distance Runaround

6. Semi-Simple Variations

7. How Deep Is Your Love

8. Barracuda

9. Lock, Stock And Teardrops

10. Variation D'apollon

11. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

12. Semi-Simple Variations (Alternative Version)

x

Track List: Prog

1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World

2. Physical Cities

3. Life On Mars

4. Mint

5. Giant

6. Thriftstore Jewelry

7. Tom Sawyer

8. This Guy's In Love With You

9. The World Is The Same

10. 1980 World Champion

x

Track List: Suspicious Activity?

1. Prehensile Dream

2. Anthem For The Earnest

3. Let Our Garden Grow

4. The Empire Strikes Backwards

5. Knows The Difference

6. Lost Of Love

7. Rhinoceros Is My Profession

8. O. G. (Original Gentleman)

9. (Theme From) Chariots Of Fire

10. Forces

x

Track List: Give

1. 1979 Semi-Finalist

3. Street Woman

4. And Here We Test Our Powers Of Observation

5. Frog And Toad

6. Velouria

7. Layin' A Strip For The Higher-Self State Line

8. Do Your Sums - Die Like A Dog - Play For Home

9. Dirty Blonde

10. Neptune (The Planet)

11. Iron Man

x

Track List: These Are The Vistas

1. Big Eater

2. Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your A**

3. Smells Like Teen Spirit

4. Everywhere You Turn

5. 1972 Bronze Medalist

6. Guilty

7. Boo-Wah

8. Flim

9. Heart Of Glass

10. Silence Is The Question

Comments

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Exceptional drummer. And I'm picky about drummers. :-)
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Good Plus for the Bad Plus!
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Just found this band bad plus pass me the peas please !!! I am going to keep an ear to the ground for this profound sound
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Really dig The Bad Plus! The title track of their debut album, These Are The Vistas, evokes a quiet urgency that belies the tremendous sonic assault on the other instrumental s that comprise most of that first effort. Great to experience live!
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No doubt, SILENCE IS THE QUESTION (?).Awesome piece of music gentlemen!
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The beginning of "Chariots Of Fire" is so fonky! That was the 1st song I've ever heard from them.Looking forward to checking out their catalogue. Would be a treat to see them with Medeski,Mart i n & Wood!
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chancet78
I can dig it!!! Sounds real nice...
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Nevuh heard of these guys. Not bad!!
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Nice trio....than k s .
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tjahan
Spectacular version of the Rite of Spring live yesterday at SF Jazz Center. These guys are simply awesome. David King is mesmerizing on stage!!!
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funky awesome!
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awesome
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notdave42
daveking.net
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Giant on Prog hands down the coolest shiznit I have ever heard.
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Thumbs up for The Bad Plus!! I saw them live in Portugal, and it was amazing!
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Made Possible is a great album.
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cdcrpntr
I don't think I could like this anymore.
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hemantparmar
Heard them in Davis in April 2012, blew us away! Good musicians with great personalitie s . Great sense of humour, what a trio.
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Bonzey, you are spot on about David King - I just saw the trio at the Howard Theater. David King did indeed blow my mind. The whole group is awesome.
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Interesting take on “The Bad Plus” with this album. I guess it’ll be fine as long as they don’t continue adding vocals. Been listening to them since “These Are The Vistas”. My favorite all time song that they’ve covered has probably been “Life on mars”. Incredibly emotionally powerful crescendo to that song. I really dig their first album “These are the vistas” as well. And their most recent album “Never Stop” has proven to probably be their most impressive album in terms of musicianship .
Report as inappropriate
Go see these guys live and David King will blow your mind. My all time favorite drummer. He is absolutely astounding. Devastating to watch. My jaw dropped in amazement the first time I saw him play.
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hd-taylor
I had forgotten about this group. Thanks for reintroducin g me to some very pleasant new music.
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Can't believe this is the first time I've ever heard them. . I really like what I'm hearing. I'll have to get more!
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I've enjoyed them a whole hell of a lot on Pandora, but I do hear they're hot stuff, live. I hope I can catch them here, sometime (Seattle, WA).
Report as inappropriate
This group is crazzzzzzzzz z z z z z z z z i e in a good way take a listen to Prog..OUTSTA N D I N G ALBUM(old skool) tonight I will be iTuning the other three.
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arpex715
We should all thank our lucky stars that there are some bands still out there that have the talent and the balls to keep jazz alive. The Bad Plus is able to stick to jazz tradition while giving us something exceptionall y original and fresh to listen to. It's like your ears having the cake and eating it too!
Report as inappropriate
akottas8
Listening to 'Silence is the Question' while lying down, relaxed, eyes closed, is quite an experience. And I agree, Dave King is amazing. Happy Apple is no different either, just phenomenal music. I met Mike Lewis at a Cheetah Nunchuck show this summer (at Downtime Bar and Grill, in Dinkytown MN). He was really nice and down-to-eart h , and was very tolerant of my annoying reminders of his greatness. He even got onstage for a few numbers! Man, I must've been really annoying!
Report as inappropriate
One of the best bands out there, and David King is the greatest. If you like his style, check out his other band, Happy Apple. Different style of jazz, but you'll probably like it if you like TBP. Also, the playing of covers is definitely not a gimmick. Covering earlier material has been a staple of jazz since its inception. The only difference is that TBP covers rock because they grew up with it and like it, and it makes for interesting inspiration for a jazz piece.
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What about Wendy Lewis? What a fascinating voice!!!!!
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warthogger9
Where's their new album on here???
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josh_perea7
love em!
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53400053
for those wondering, this mystery drummer is dave king.
also, they're playing covers because they like the way the songs sound -- it's not a joke, or a marketing ploy, or anything.
my favorite song is giant...
Report as inappropriate
The drummer is probably the most unique drummer I've ever heard. It's almost like he reinvents the instrument. Poopy Trim.
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aransdell
I've seen these guys live twice and it was a treat both times!
Report as inappropriate
Great musicians and writers, but the reliance on covers seems like a marketing ploy. They should focus on writing their own material.
Report as inappropriate
cowboys1174
these guys are good. never heard of them until today. but daddy like.....
Report as inappropriate
So... are they a Bad Plus...or a Good Minus? Who knows. All I know is that these guys rock the house harder than any so-called "rock band" on the radio.
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warthogger9
these guys are amazing, what could be better than a blend of jazz and classic rock that leans toward the jazz jam session side yet remains a power trio, etc?
the drummer rocks by the way.
Report as inappropriate
migueldj
Amazing trio.

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