Sunday, April 24, 2005

they are the champions

Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you the best band in the world today, The Bad Plus. In their own words they are a "power piano trio" and I couldn't put it better myself. The picture above was taken by me (yes, I really was that close to the front) at their Birmingham date last year which was the greatest live performance I've ever seen - FACT.

Reid Anderson plays bass, Ethan Iverson plays piano and Dave King plays drums and live at least, it's Dave King's show. Pulling out all sorts of mad percussion instruments, kids toys, pots and pans, you name it. He also rules the school on this track, which is the first song I heard by them.

The Bad Plus - And Here We Test Our Powers Of Observation

The thing about The Bad Plus live experience is how much of a blast they seem to be having while they're dismantling their music right in front of your eyes - like a herd of bulls let loose in a jazz record shop, if you'll forgive the tortuous metaphor.

Which is not to say it's anarchy for it's own sake - they know their "chops" and are working in the grand tradition of other traditionalist-anarchists as Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman - jazz musicians who knew their history and had respect for the music's source in the blues but just needed to fit it to what they heard in their own heads.

They have built up a reputation for some great deconstructions of pop hits - Aphex Twin, Nirvana, Blondie. They even ended up supporting Pixies after they heard their version of "Velouria" - a version that, dare I say it, kicks ten tonnes more arse than Mr Francis' original. Here's their version of a Black Country/Black Metal classic. My favourite moment in music from 2004 occurs at 4:29

The Bad Plus - Iron Man

They've just released a live album called "Blunt Object" which you can only buy online, and it's one of the most ferocious recordings I've ever heard - it's worth the price of admission just for their version of "We Are the Champions".

Buy "Give" by The Bad Plus 
visit and buy "Blunt Object - Live in Tokyo"

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