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The Bad Plus: Music with a Capital "M"

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Wednesday September 14, 2016

From PopMatters

Music with a Capital “M”
An Interview with Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus
By: Noah Harrison

The Bad Plus may not always play by the rules, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t come up with their own rules.

The limber, Minneapolis-born trio of bassist, drummer, and pianist have played on the same stage for 15 years, and while they’ve undeniably grown as instrumentalists, many things have remained constant. Since their inception, Ethan, drummer Dave King, and bassist Reid Anderson have tackled an eclectic mix of cover songs and original compositions.

Their fascination with pop by way of jazz all started at an early gig when, for lack of a set’s worth original material, they intuitively opted to play, not standards, but rather ‘90s anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Though as Ethan stresses, capturing the spirit of the original piece is hardly their main concern. The Bad Plus’ focus is to deconstruct and reassemble familiar musical artifacts from their own perspective. So don’t mistake them for no house band.

In the past, they’ve taken on Bowie, Blondie, Radiohead, Rush, and… Igor Stravinsky? In 2014, we spoke with the band about their complete overhaul of the revolutionary and riot-inciting, Rite of Spring, one of their most ambitious projects to date. Most recently, the Bad Plus recorded It’s Hard, an album exclusively of covers, featuring reworked classics by Prince and Ornette Coleman, among others.

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