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August 2, 2011 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Jazz group The Bad Plus play an appropriately discordant Karma Police, a slow-burn We Are The Champions, an tearfulfeariffic Everybody Wants To Rule The World, and also sort of smell like teen spirit.
posted by cortex (42 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
And Flim!
posted by ifandonlyif at 3:52 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


and a pretty great Iron Man, been a staple for many years
posted by edgeways at 3:57 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"For a minute there...."
posted by jokeefe at 4:00 PM on August 2, 2011


The Bad Plus have always smacked to me a bit of ironic hipster cleverness, which is not really what i want from jazz. But their pianist Ethan Iverson is one of the best writers about jazz I've come across, and I've been drawn towards maybe listening to them again. But do I want to hear another 'jazz' version of a Radiohead or Black Sabbath song? Nah.
posted by peterkins at 4:00 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can take or leave their hip versions of various things, but they're actually quite good sometimes – at least, they're better than the ever-tendentious and never-spirited jazz darling Brad Mehldau.

However: their version of "(Theme from) Chariots of Fire" happens to be one of my most favorite things ever.
posted by koeselitz at 4:07 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're great. I've been rocking along to them for years. I really like they're cover of House of Glass from their first cover, especially the mixed meter drop at the end.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:13 PM on August 2, 2011


well koselitz, Vangelis is of course a different proposition...and i agree with you about Mr Mehldau.
posted by peterkins at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2011


As a cover band - The Bad Plus are completely awesome. Their wandery meandering over long crazy smashy piano thumping original material can really test a listener's patience sometimes.

I mean how do they even come up with these "compositions"? Does one of the guys show up to band practice, says "Check out this new piece I spent all weekend on" - and then proceed to slam his fists down on the piano keys loudly and indiscrimately?
posted by helmutdog at 4:21 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have their cover of Every Breath You Take, and I'm of two minds about it: interesting but I don't know whether I like it. I'll listen to these but I wouldn't be surprised if their cover methodology works out to be a funny-once gag for me.
posted by immlass at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2011


Also, in case anybody's wondering, I think the most interesting and dynamic piano trio out there today is Vijay Iyer's trio. They do some pretty interesting covers in an un-gimmicky way that's right for jazz, I think, whilst still pulling off some fantastic originals.
posted by koeselitz at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Yes, that's a piano trio cover of a MIA song. And it's actually pretty great.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:27 PM on August 2, 2011


I haven't heard much by The Bad Plus, but the covers I have heard I'm quite fond of. I've always lamented that we don't have much modern coverage of truly classic songs like there are of Great American Songbook and jazz tunes. We get so stuck on The Correct And Original Version (or The Correct And Popular Version) that it seems like a lot of artists won't even approach a lot of what should be some of the most widely performed and popular songs in the modern vernacular.

Anyway, cool post. Thanks for expanding my tiny pool of experience of TBP. I look forward to hearing more by them in the years to come.
posted by hippybear at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And Here We Test Our Powers of Observation is probably my favorite contemporary... jazz? song ever. Much more melodic than their usual stuff.
posted by anthill at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2011


Oh oh oh Bad Plus story time!

I'd picked up "Give" and "These Are The Vistas" I was in Japan and was totally smitten with the sound. I wouldn't shut up about them for weeks. Then I moved to Missoula, MT, basically giving up any shot at ever seeing them live, I figured.

Until a few months later, when they came through town. I sat in the front row and had my mind blasted open. I get the criticisms of over-cleverness or whatever, but I love both their originals and the covers, and basically I think they're just great.

BUT ANYWAY SO THEN: After the show, I took my copy of These Are The Vistas and asked up at the t-shirt booth if there was some way I could get it signed. The lady there sent the message up along some inscrutable chain of command, and finally came the response from an official-looking man -- "Follow me." I was led backstage where Ethan, David, and Reid were happy to chat with me with me for a couple of minutes after signing my CD. They were incredibly nice, even noticing that I'd gotten the Japanese edition of the album and saying they'd enjoyed playing in Japan, etc., basically just making small talk with me totally unnecessarily after the show, when I was nothing more than a blathering fanboy, but I'll love them forever for being so accomodating of my desire to get my dumb CD signed.
posted by pts at 4:54 PM on August 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh and also: Dave King is a goddamn maniac live. Just unbelievable.

And koeselitz: Thanks! I'd never known about Vijay Iyer. Those covers are really excellent (I loved Somewhere); I'll need see about picking some of his stuff up.
posted by pts at 5:08 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And finally: The twist at the end of their version of Iron Man is so smart and good and moving and gorgeous that I don't want to spoil it by saying what it is. Seriously just go listen to it. All the way through.
posted by pts at 5:11 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


For folks who like the Bad Plus and/or find Brad Mehldau a bit bland, I'd also recommend checking out Jacob Karlzon, and the late Esbjörn Svensson and his Trio.
posted by twsf at 5:14 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the critical number of bands to play a version of a song for it to become a new 'standard' ?
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:15 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a cover band - The Bad Plus are completely awesome. Their wandery meandering over long crazy smashy piano thumping original material can really test a listener's patience sometimes.

I don't know, I find their original stuff (the new album is all originals) to be quite strong and varied in style and form. And there's a fair amount of that 'crazy smashy' in some of their covers too. They're incredibly tight live, too; I saw them a few months ago here in Vancouver, everything felt complex but very controlled.
posted by troubles at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2011


As a cover band - The Bad Plus are completely awesome. Their wandery meandering over long crazy smashy piano thumping original material can really test a listener's patience sometimes.

Interesting. Even though I originally was introduced to them by way of the Nirvana/Sabbath/etc covers, it was their original material that hooked me into coming back for more.

Silence Is The Question is my personal favorite of their meanderingpianosmashy works.
posted by mannequito at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Bad Plus is the first concert I ever went to by myself. This was back in the summer of 2004 or so. None of my friends at the time were very into jazz, and even though it was a free concert nobody wanted to go with me. So I decided to go alone. It was awkward at first, listening to trio jazz music alone in a crowded amphitheater, but everybody was having a good time and I got into the groove.

I had arrived late, and so when the set ended without them playing their awesome Iron Man cover, I figured they must have played at the beginning of the set and I had just missed it. Well, the crowd was pretty enthusiastic, and shouting for an encore so I stuck around to see if they'd come play one more song.

Sure enough, they got back on the stage, and when those telltale tinkly little piano notes* wafted over the crowd, the entire amphitheater erupted in a roar of elation: they're playing Iron Man. They. Are. Playing. Iron. Man.

Fists were pumped and bodies were rocked, and in that moment I no longer felt alone. I was part of a group, a group of people who all believed that a silly jazz cover of an early 70's heavy metal song was the best part of the night. I was among friends.


*Thing is, if you hadn't heard the cover before, you would have no idea what they were playing from the first few notes. So when EVERYBODY cheered within seconds the song starting up, you knew these were legitimate fans.
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


anthill: And Here We Test... was when I fist took note of Bad Plus. It was pretty remarkable to hear a live drummer copy a drum machine style, with those dense fills. And Iron Man is a thing of beauty.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:52 PM on August 2, 2011


Actually thinking back on it it was the Aphex cover Flim that had the amazing Dave King human-techno fills.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:15 PM on August 2, 2011



What's the critical number of bands to play a version of a song for it to become a new 'standard' ?


Previously.
 
      viously
 
            vee us lee
 
                  ee us lee

 
posted by Herodios at 7:43 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]



Their wandery meandering over long crazy smashy piano thumping . . .

Does one of the guys show up to band practice, says "Check out this new piece I spent all weekend on" - and then proceed to slam his fists down on the piano keys loudly and indiscrimately?

there's a fair amount of that 'crazy smashy' in some of their covers too. . .

my personal favorite of their meanderingpianosmashy works. . .



Psst. They're called tone clusters.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:51 PM on August 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


...a bit of ironic hipster cleverness

John Zorn took the prize in that category when he laid the bass line from Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" under the melody for Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:54 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Psst. They're called tone clusters.

I dunno, from my personal experiences as a performer they're called "beermprovisations".

On some nights it was more of a "redefining the tonic and also some gin and a lime" thing.
posted by cortex at 8:01 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Redefining The Tonic" should be the name of cortex's mixology text.
posted by hippybear at 8:04 PM on August 2, 2011


I dunno, from my personal experiences as a performer they're called "beermprovisations".

Yeah, probably. On the other hand, from Cecil Taylor's personal experiences as a performer they'd be called "tone clusters".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:08 PM on August 2, 2011


flapjax, thanks for that Zorn link, I seriously don't know how I missed that whole album.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:26 PM on August 2, 2011


Mei's lost sandal - have you heard this album by Alarm Will Sound?
posted by mannequito at 8:28 PM on August 2, 2011


Pretty fresh, thanks Cortex
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:31 PM on August 2, 2011


no, I have not. thanks.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:33 PM on August 2, 2011


On the more far out cover front, they've also done Stravinsky's Firebird. At my alma mater. On (almost) my wife's birthday. And I couldn't go because of work. If anyone can find a recording, I'll give my eternal gratitude.
posted by louie at 11:09 PM on August 2, 2011


(Oh, and count me in the group who first heard of Bad Plus because of their covers but now thoroughly enjoy their original work.)
posted by louie at 11:09 PM on August 2, 2011


I'm partial to Layin' a Strip for the Higher Self State. I'm a sucker for a road/train song, and it's got a cheeky, honky-tonk attitude.

I love running to Anthem for the Earnest, and I keep Flim (a cover, I think, though I don't know the original) on my phone for when I need to clear my head.
posted by robcorr at 2:02 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the more far out cover front, they've also done Stravinsky's Firebird. At my alma mater. On (almost) my wife's birthday. And I couldn't go because of work. If anyone can find a recording, I'll give my eternal gratitude.

It's online here.

I was slightly disappointed; I was hoping for something less close to the original score.
posted by dfan at 5:49 AM on August 3, 2011


Oops, I thought you meant Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Did you mean Stravinsky's Rite of Spring?
posted by dfan at 5:57 AM on August 3, 2011


I like these guys and I like jazz versions of songs newer than 50 years old. Another trio that does some cool covers is Soulive. Here's Eleanor Rigby, from their CD Rubber Soulive.
posted by tommasz at 6:26 AM on August 3, 2011


It makes my hipster bones ache to praise something people already like (not The Bad Plus, which I loved way before you knew about them :), but Spotify makes threads like this even more awesome. Thanks. And cortex, begin whipping pb until he comes up with a way to derive Spotify playlists from music threads auto-magically.
posted by yerfatma at 6:40 AM on August 3, 2011


Flim (a cover, I think, though I don't know the original)

Aphex Twin - Flim

It's actually one of their most straightforward covers.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:45 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They operate in a border region kind of like the current debt deal: jazz fans progressives don't like them because they aren't really jazz the deal fails to protect liberal sacred cows and rock fans conservatives don't like them because they aren't really rock the deal fails to protect conservative sacred cows.

I love them, no comment on the debt deal though.
posted by caddis at 8:54 AM on August 3, 2011


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