Dynamics are the key to The Bad Plus and their music. They are an "acoustic fusion" band which melds the energy of rock and roll to the instrumental prowess of jazz. Much like the music of Nirvana and the other rock bands that have influenced them, the band’s music will go from a whisper to a scream and build to emotional crescendos. But it’s not all bombast, regardless of what some will tell you.
There’s a lot of musicianship at work here. Consider "Layin’ a Strip.... " which is a fun, funky and fast paced tune that is played with considerable tact and intelligence. Dave King keeps the pot boiling on this tune, proving that he is not the ham-fisted Neanderthal that some would make him out to be. "1979 Semi-Finalist" and "Neptune (The Planet) are taken at mid tempo, where they are equally adept and comfortable spinning melody as blasting out on a fleet improvisation.
Of course, what would a Bad Plus record be without an irreverent cover, and turning Black Sabbath’s "Iron Man" into an almost Wagnerian opus certainly fits the bill. The bombast is all tongue in cheek, but the musicians are clearly having a ball.
In the end, maybe that’s what so infuriates some people about the band’s music. They are having fun playing the music. In a genre where credibility rests on chops and speed, The Bad Plus bring a garage rock element to the music that isn’t so polished and perfect.
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