2009 release from the Progressive Jazz trio joined on this album from guest vocalist Wendy Lewis. The album marks the first Bad Plus recording to include a guest vocalist as the fourth instrument in its sonic arsenal. But For All I Care is more than just an album pairing a singer with a backing band. The recording is inspired in part by the collaborative recording by John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman, released in 1963. 'Coltrane's quartet had already developed a group language, and then they enlisted this incredible singer without changing the language of the band,' says the band. 'In that same sense, this is still very much a Bad Plus record. We just happen to have a great singer singing the songs with us.'
Even for a band whose renown rests largely on its virtuosic approach to iconic cover tunes, the Bad Plus practically outdoes itself with For All I Care
. Wilco gives way to Yes. The Bee Gees meet “Barracuda.” Igor Stravinsky (“Variation d’Apollon”) nestles up against the Flaming Lips (“Feeling Yourself Disintegrate”). This gymnastic set list derives much of its whimsical strength from the addition of vocalist Wendy Lewis, who joins pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King for the majority of the album. Any singer would be hard-pressed to match the lyrical touch with which Iverson usually interprets vocal lines, and while Lewis’s clarion voice commands attention throughout, it leads a handful of these tracks away from the compelling uniqueness that generally marks a Bad Plus cover from the get-go. (Skip Nirvana’s “Lithium.” Just skip it.) Nevertheless, this foursome is certainly more than just a band plus one. “Comfortably Numb,” for example, gives Pink Floyd a serious run for its--er--money. For Bad Plus “purists,” the addition of Lewis marks a love-it-or-leave-it sidestep in the group’s well established tradition of reverent, playful caprice. For those who happen upon the Bad Plus for the first time here, get excited: For All I Care
follows four much better albums, so you’ve got a lot to look forward/backward to. --Jason Kirk