Friday, July 24, 2009

The Bad Plus - Live at the California Plaza in Los Angeles

Just when you thought that your tax dollars are being spent on frivolous things like programs that have nothing to do with you - along comes a free 'Bad Plus' show. Wow, no way... and what a show it was. The NEA and various other sponsors helped the Bad Plus put on a 45 min lunchtime show and a 2 hour evening show at the California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. It is a acoustically sound and comfortable outdoor venue which made experiencing the energy of these musicians in action a super cool experience. Unfortunately I was only able to catch the last half of the lunch show.

These are the songs I caught -
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (mellow)
Beral (?) Loves to Dance (very cool)
Who's He? (I don't know)
Tom Sawyer (made my month)

Okay, so some of my theories were confirmed as I witnessed their communication chemistry. These musicians have a way of playing that for me is rare to experience - some sort of advanced multi-dimensional telepathy. It appears (to me) that they are most comfortable experiencing many different realms to varying degrees. They are far out enough for the music geek to stay interested, yet are very accessible to the non-geek. They have a perfect balance of energy between them to make this happen. In order of orbit - closest to earth Reid Anderson, bassist (usually at least one foot on the ground), some where between Mars & Jupiter - David King, drummer (lots of times no feet) and out near Neptune is where you might find Ethan Iverson, pianist (sometimes he puts his big toe on the ground).

Its always enjoyable watching musicians that are exceptional at their instruments, not only technically, but creatively too. The Bad Plus tops the charts in this department. Reid is just so good and groovy, he makes playing an upright with no fret marks look so easy. David is a part of his drum set. He doesn't just sit behind it, he gets up and explores the many potential angles and plays it like a gourmet chef. He used a technique that looked like he was painting a circular design on the ride cymbal with the tip of the stick. Never saw that before - I don't think anyone taught him that manuveur. And Ethan just keeps me on the edge of my seat ready to hear what he will come up with next. I know these guys can go off musically and someday I would like to see that, but since it was daylight and on 'sponsored time', I think they kept it close to the script, with one obvious exception - the end of 'Tom Sawyer' Ethan couldn't help himself and broke into a Rumba - way cool.

The Bad Plus still comes highly recommened and I think they sound even more exciting live.

Related Bad Plus Review can be found on:

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