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NPR First Listen: The Bad Plus

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Thursday January 11, 2018

From NPR

First Listen: The Bad Plus, ‘Never Stop II’
By: Nate Chinen

A continuity and a break: That’s the history of The Bad Plus in a nutshell. An acoustic piano trio with the combustion properties of a post-punk band, it emerged in the early 2000s to an uproar — its surging attack and shrewd repertoire were framed as a radical split from the jazz tradition. Gradually a more perceptive view emerged, one that acknowledged where the band was really coming from.

First and foremost, this is still The Bad Plus. That much becomes clear during the opener, a darkly cinematic Anderson theme called “Hurricane Birds.” No other band in the world sounds quite like this; I suspect that anyone who has followed The Bad Plus over the years would be able to identify it after hearing the first chord of the song. (Go ahead, try this at home.)

Evans is a highly esteemed pianist with post-bop dynamism in his bloodstream, and it’s illuminating to hear him in this mode, expressing a strain of somber yet delicate grandeur long associated with Iverson. There are about as many commonalities between the two pianists as there are differences: both revere Thelonious Monk, and both excel along the fault line that divides lyrical ardor from turbulent abstraction. In jazz-canonical terms, Evans runs a little less Paul Bley, a little more Andrew Hill.

Listen to Never Stop II and read more on NPR: First Listen