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The Bad Plus Play Stravinsky: A concert review in seven movements

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Friday June 10, 2011

From bebopified

The Bad Plus Play Stravinsky: A concert review in seven movements
By Bruce Abbott, Don Berryman, Larry Englund, Kip Jones, Bill Kempe, and Bonnie Marshall

Larry Englund

It was many, many years ago that I watched Maurice Bejart’s ballet of The Rite of Spring, a powerful spectacle featuring what seemed like hundreds of dancers on stage. With only three musicians on stage Saturday night, The Bad Plus created an aural spectacle rather than a visual one. I especially like the way that Reid Anderson’s bass would be turned up at various times, creating a trio sound that seemed much greater than the sum of its parts. The accompanying video was at times a bit distracting, as I found myself wondering what music the upside-down dancer was hearing. Dave King’s drum work, coupled with Ethan Iverson’s attack on the piano, soon brought me back to full attention to their performance. I’ve no idea what a classical musician might think of their performance, but as a jazz fan, I enjoyed it.

Bill Kempe

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring has long been one of my very favorite pieces of music. Hearing a recording of that work helped ignite within me a passion for 20th century music, and helped lead me down the path towards becoming a composer. Years ago, I studied the score as part of my compositional and conducting studies. I had the hope of someday being able to conduct it. (I was a dreamer.) Recently, that piece inspired me to compose a march for orchestra called “Spring Steppe March” (“Steppe”—get it?) based on tunes from the Rite, as well as from The Firebird and Petrouchka, which also deal with the subject of the events of spring.

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