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"Surprise and dynamic contrast reigns" with The Bad Plus

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Monday December 22, 2014

From Express Milwaukee

The Bad Plus @ The Jazz Estate
By: Kevin Lynch

…You begin to see how this group has a broad audience among both open-minded jazz fans and rock-oriented listeners. “Elect That” seems to thumb its nose at the whole electoral process, with King kicking a sharp, literally metallic attack, hitting with the bottoms of his brushes and then switching back to wire brush heads with little loss of snarky edge. Yet Anderson unfurled a probing, Charlie Haden-esque bass solo, taking deep musical breaths, letting the notes ring and fade, a sense of something lost.

So again, surprise and dynamic contrast reigns. By jazz standards, the tunes never lasted too long, often ending by snuffing what might be a groove vamp.

And BP chooses quirky ways to engage in specifics of the world. King’s “1972 Bronze Medalist,” supposedly commemorates “the triumph of the human spirit,” as Anderson described it, in depicting a Frenchman who won the medal. The pushing, plodding, driving beats did suggest life’s uphill trials and pitfalls, and finally a “triumph,” in resounding piano octaves.

But this seemed presented in quotation marks, a postmodern take on Romanticism. So you might scrutinize, embrace or dismiss the notion. And still, the “emotional core” is what they really care about, Anderson says. The Bad Plus has appropriated and absorbed the ironies and contradictions of the age, as their very name implies.

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