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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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EmArcy 0602517268326





1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
2. Physical Cities
3. Life On Mars
4. Mint
5. Giant
6. Thriftstore Jewelry
7. Tom Sawyer
8. This Guy's in Love with You
9. The World Is The Same
10. 1980 World Champion
Reid Anderson – Bass
Ethan Iverson – Piano
David King -- Drums

About six years ago, the Bad Plus put a bomb under the staid world of jazz with its explosive take on the piano trio format. Dislocated tunes, wayward chords and sudden outbursts of percussion excited many jazz fans and horrified others. The three Americans have now established themselves as the bad boys of jazz but their dilemma is that, once you have shocked people, what do you do next? The answer from this new CD seems to be that you go on shocking them. The album opens calmly enough with a fairly straightforward interpretation of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, a 1985 pop song by Tears for Fears. Yet even here, drummer David King upsets the apple cart with his sudden interruptions.

Physical Cities, the first of six originals by band members, is more explosive, although it settles into a groove before disintegrating into noisy mayhem. Sanity seems to return with the double bass stating the melody of David Bowie’s Life on Mars but again disorder takes over with some free-form rambling, although the tune is still audible from the piano. This seems to happen with several tracks on the album: the piano maintaining a melody while all around his colleagues are losing their heads – especially the drummer. The apparent disorder makes better sense than many avant-garde meanderings, as the trio seems to listen carefully to one another and respond to what the others are doing.

Thriftstore Jewelry has a bustling rhythm which tends to hold the piece together, although the drum solo is again an exercise in assault and battery. This Guy’s in Love With You opens like cocktail piano music, taking the Bacharach/David tune seriously for a while, although occasional nervous touches suggest menace is brewing. In fact most Bad Plus performances have an undercurrent of menace, which puts the trio at the opposite pole from easy listening and ensures that their music is often stimulating if also disturbing.

If you think that jazz needs shaking up from time to time, then the Bad Plus is doing us all a service. It’s understandable if some jazz devotees find the trio too anarchic for comfort. Yet comfort is never what the Bad Plus is about!

Tony Augarde


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