April 13th, 2010


The Good Minus

Well, I don't get to go to Coachella this year. But I still got to hear good music this week. I went to a jazz concert at the Barns At Wolf Trap tonight. I got to hear one of my favorite bands, the Bad Plus, and what a great place to see a concert.


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My photo of the band doesn't do them justice. They're a lot hotter than this in person. Imagine the drummer David King as a tattooed biker battering the kit. Ethan Iverson on the piano keys as a goofy math geek. But it's the bassist Reid Anderson who writes most of the tunes, and holds the group together. This is jazz re-imagined as punk rock.

Here are some better photos:

Their gimmick is that they don't play jazz "standards". Those songs were popular fifty years ago - today's kids love grunge and power pop. So, they instead do covers of Nirvana, Wilco, Pink Floyd and the BeeGees. Hear what they do to Queen's "We Are The Champions":

http://www.patrickkellogg.com/temp/The Bad Plus Plays Queens We Are the Champions.mp3

Nice, huh? Unlike a lot of modern jazz, you can still make out the melody. Here's a more outlandish take on Blondie's "Heart Of Glass":

http://www.patrickkellogg.com/temp/The Bad Plus Plays Blondies Heart of Glass.mp3

I think that's the very definition of "deconstruction". At tonight's show, they were a little cranky, and played all original tunes. But I didn't mind - their own compositions are fantastic. And I'm sure they don't want to be written of as the "Weird Al Yankovic" of jazz. I love the idea that creative improvisation is not dead, and I have high hopes for the future of jazz.
  • Current Music
    The Bad Plus "Silence Is The Question"