The Bad Plus is a collective made up of bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson, and drummer David King. All three are from the Midwest and they have known each other since their teens. Nonetheless, with the exception of one unimpressive meeting in 1990, it is only after spending their formative 20s apart -- King as a session player in Los Angeles, Iverson as the musical director for the prestigious Mark Morris Dance Group, Anderson as a prominent up-and-coming player on the New York jazz scene -- that they reunited in late 2000 to play a weekend club date in Minneapolis. The chemistry was immediate and obvious. They planned a second gig and a one-day recording session for the indie jazz label Fresh Sound and The Bad Plus was born.
On this same first gig, the nascent group played their first rock cover, Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit. ' Thus began The Bad Plus trademark of complementing original repertoire with their takes on mainstream pop 'standards' including ABBA, Black Sabbath, the Bee Gees, Queen, Blondie, Aphex Twin, Neil Young, and Bjork.
Four years ago, The Bad Plus released These Are The Vistas, their first recording for the venerable Columbia label. With a sound more akin to a rock and roll assault than to the politeness of a jazz piano trio, with influences ranging from Stravinsky to Ornette Coleman, and a repertoire blending diverse original material and provocative covers of Nirvana and Aphex Twin, The Bad Plus earned a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking groups in music.
Produced by Tchad Blake, among the most innovative engineers of the last 20 years, it sounded like
no other jazz recording. Championed by mainstream rock press, reviled by jazz purists, hailed by others as music's great hope, Vistas was embraced in the US and abroad. The group became staples at NPR and college radio and developed a strong presence on the international concert circuit, playing more than 170 shows in 2006 alone.
As is now a Bad Plus tradition, the covers frame the band's original compositions, including the stunning new ballad, 'Giant, ' the intricately angular 'Mint, ' and the final instalment in their tribute to athleticism, '1980 World Champion. '
Favouring group improvisation over individual solos, eschewing all jazz clichés, The Bad Plus rip into each set with a combination of Swiss-watch precision, the spectrum of dynamics and reckless abandon.