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The Bad Plus redefines jazz

David King and Reid Anderson, members of The Bad Plus, perform in the Center for Faith and Life.

David King and Reid Anderson, members of The Bad Plus, perform in the Center for Faith and Life.

Shasa Sartin (‘19) | Chips

Shasa Sartin (‘19) | Chips

David King and Reid Anderson, members of The Bad Plus, perform in the Center for Faith and Life.

Shasa Sartin, Staff Writer

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A New York City-based and Twin Cities-bred jazz trio The Bad Plus performed in the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) on April 7. David King played drums, Ethan Iverson played piano, and Reid Anderson played the bass.

“I thought it was pretty complex stuff,” attendee Andrew Bien (‘17) said. “But [it was] really cool. I definitely dug it.”

King also described their music as complex. Part of the instrumental tradition of jazz is reworking old songs. In The Bad Plus’ set they played remakes of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and “The Robots” by Kraftwerk.

Performing Arts Committee (PAC) volunteer Genevieve Ehlers (‘19) appreciated this aspect of their show.

“It was cool how they took songs that people know and gave them a jazz twist,” Ehlers said. “I’ve never really listened to jazz music before, and I thought they were really interesting.”

King spoke to the importance of remaking classic songs to keep them interesting.

“[We] reinterpret [the songs] with our language,” King said. “Sometimes the music is reframed with a totally different emotion.”

The Bad Plus took the original “Time After Time” lyrics and brought them to life using a harmonious combination of drums, piano and bass.

The group formed in 2000, but before their beginning they were a part of the same jazz scene in their high school years.

“They’ve been playing together for so long that they’ve developed a sound that has ventured far from where they began, pretty clearly,” Bien said. “Their music is far from what most other people in music are doing. Because they’ve been together for so long, they’ve just got a very developed sound and [are] very unique.”

Ehlers found that bringing different musical groups to Luther is an excellent way to learn. 

“I think bringing in shows like The Bad Plus is important because it allows students to expand their interests and explore new things,” Ehlers said. “These kind of shows really provide an opportunity for students to expand their horizons.”

The Bad Plus also gave a masterclass to Luther College Jazz Orchestra before the concert. All other jazz students were invited as well. Peter Mathistad (‘18) and his jazz combo group Transition Gallery played a tune for The Bad Plus and received feedback from them. According to Mathistad, The Bad Plus is known for holding down metrically and rhythmically challenging grooves with ease.

“Playing that kind of music at such a high level requires that each individual is wholly focused on maintaining that level consistently,” Mathistad said. “the most important thing that I took from the masterclass was the importance of individual attention in relation to the group effort.”

As a developing musician, Mathistad especially enjoyed the Q&A session.

“All three of [The Bad Plus musicians] provided thoughtful, invaluable insights into aspects of musicianship and innovation,” Mathistad said.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Bad Plus redefines jazz”

  1. David Peterson on April 16th, 2017 8:13 pm

    While it’s true that jazz has a tradition of reworking old songs, the ironic or sarcastic cover is a more recent phenomena. It’s a creation of my generation, and it represents a break from a tradition of respect and reverence for the material. The unstated purpose of the ironic treatment of hit songs is reveal the presenter as more intelligent than the simple minded pop artist. The use of the word complex is another attempt at self flattery that itself doesn’t acknowledge musics’ higher purpose -human emotional connection. Sometimes simpler is better and smarter. We should be so lucky to take a master class from Cyndi Lauper.

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