The Bad Plus (Plus One)

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Monday May 06, 2013

From The Los Angeles Times

Review: Brad Mehldau, the Bad Plus push jazz further ahead at UCLA
By: Chris Barton

There was no shortage of curiosity going into headliners the Bad Plus, which was paired with a special guest in Joshua Redman. Redman’s the son of avant-garde saxophonist Dewey (who also recorded with Haden), and his gifts have been well documented since the ’90s, but how much space would he be able to carve out in the compact, intensely collaborative world of the Bad Plus?

The question was answered early during “Love Is the Answer,” a moonlit ballad from the trio’s 2000 recording “Motel.” As pianist Ethan Iverson carried a flickering melody that gracefully recalled “Moonlight Sonata,” the rhythm section of bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King surged ahead as Redman waited. When the saxophonist entered with a lovely, squiggly turn, King answered with an acrobatic barrage of fireworks behind him, goading Redman to push further ahead or be overtaken.

From there, the Bad Plus (plus one) roared as if a quartet were always lying just beneath its surface. Although the trio was considered a controversial force by some in the early ’00s for a variety of ear-grabbing covers that included the Pixies, Aphex Twin and Nirvana, it was telling that the group performed only its originals here, marking a summary of a decade-plus career that has always been more than its eclectic tastes.

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