The Bad Plus | Jazz Showcase | Jazz | Chicago Reader

The Bad Plus Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., Dec. 20, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., Dec. 21, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., Dec. 22, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 23, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2012

In the early aughts the Bad Plus attracted the attention of the mainstream music press with radical yet sincere deconstructions of a wide variety of pop songs, but the recent Made Possible (eOne) is the trio's second consecutive album to focus on original material. (The only cover is a tender version of Paul Motian's "Victoria" in homage to the late drummer.) Many of the Bad Plus's own tunes share the snappy concision and hooky generosity of pop music—"Pound for Pound," by bassist Reid Anderson, cycles through a gorgeous line played by pianist Ethan Iverson, who repeats it with improvised rhythmic tweaks as the band ramps up the intensity and melodic embellishment. The formerly all-acoustic trio has incorporated electronics for the first time on Made Possible, albeit sparingly: on "Seven Minute Mind," a marvel of postminimalist syncopation and polyrhythmic play, percussionist David King drops in some staccato drum-machine fills, and on the tense, hyperactive "Re-Elect That" a chintzy, deliberately over-the-top fake-horn fanfare basically tackles the rest of the song. More than ever the Bad Plus moves as a whole, while each player holds to his own pulse to create a dizzying collage of rhythms. When Iverson improvises on the furious groove of King's "Wolf Out," he stays within the outline sketched by the song's frenetic melody, rather than following only the changes the way a traditional jazz soloist would. In fact, the Bad Plus flouts most jazz conventions on the new album, though all three members are clearly energized by high-level group improvisation—and onstage that energy always comes through even more vividly. —Peter Margasak

Price: $25-$30

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