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Prog

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 8, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

You have to hear the Bad Plus's lush, lovely instrumental approach to Tears for Fears' hit "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." It's a slowly-evolving meditation on the tune that clearly is in love with its melody and structure. It might be the finest jazz cover of an '80s song since Miles Davis cut Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" back in the day. The other covers, especially their florid take on Rush's "Tom Sawyer," may be likely to get the most attention of anything on the album. But they rely too much on irony, on people's previous perceptions of the music, and do not seem quite as enamored of the original. They're jokes that are funny the first time but not so much the second or third. As with the Bad Plus' previous releases, the group's original compositions are the meat of the album: "Giant" and "Physical Cities" carve out huge walls of sonic space with abandon. This is rockist jazz, a postmodern fusion that relies greatly on tricky time signatures and mashups of seemingly incongruous sound. It's not likely this music will age spectacularly well, but so what? If you're looking for some engaging and conversation-inducing dinner music preceding an evening spent watching Napoleon Dynamite or any Wes Anderson flick, this is just the thing. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 8, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Heads Up
  • ASIN: B000NQQ4OC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,926 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Henderson on May 29, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I'm not going to make proclamations like, "The Bad Plus is the future of jazz music," or anything like that. However, concerning their "covers," as you reviewers enjoy calling them so much, might I point out that there is a long-standing tradition in jazz to play tunes you like that you (or anyone else on the recording session for that matter) did not write yourself. And what do we now call those tunes? Standards. But the process by which a song becomes a standard is not that of a committee sitting in a room, deciding what goes in the Real Book and what doesn't. It's a process by which artists play tunes they enjoy playing, and after numerous artists have put their voice to a tune, maybe it becomes a standard. I see what the Bad Plus does with their interpretations of more contemporary rock songs as a continuation of that same tradition. The Bad Plus play tunes they enjoy, as far as I can tell, and they kill each and every one of them. Even if they play it faithfully to the original, they still kill it and give it their own Bad Plus stamp. Would you ever confuse the Rush version of Tom Sawyer with the Bad Plus Version? I doubt it.

It is somewhat regrettable that there aren't more original compositions by the band on this record, since they're all great composers with their own individual voices. But, might I also remind you, that the jazz player composes in the moment, even if they didn't write the song itself.

The Bad Plus is a great presence on the musical scene today, especially in the Jazz idiom. They bring joy, exuberance, and incredible musicality to everything they do. You don't judge their music. It judges you.
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These guys have a way with covers. But their own material is great, too. I don't agree with the Amazon reviewer that sees some of their covers as jokes that are funny once but not the second or third time. Music which functions only as a joke often falls flat, but the covers on this album are much more (if they are jokes at all) - I think they take themselves seriously as music, even if they do have fun with the tunes in the process. Anyway, art is in the eye of the beholder - one man's masterpiece is another man's headscratcher. If you like contemporary jazz, particularly jazz piano trios, and you like your music challenging yet communicative and highly listenable, get this. If you have an affection for the originals, it will only add to your enjoyment. There's a variety of approaches here, and they all work just fine.
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I am new the world of Jazz and all types of Jazz. Bad Plus was chosen by through the reviews of different websites. 4 albums later and I can sa enough about them. Excellent arrangements, great takes on the standards, music crafted with elegance, and great programming makes Bad pLus always so entertaining. Mint, Tom Sawyer standard, and Physical cities are some standouts to listen for
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If you're into Kenny G. and the smooth jazz crowd, don't bother. These guys push the borders of old school interpretative and modern free form/avant garde jazz. For the more classical jazz aficionados, check out "Giant" - a steady, bass heavy, piece of three-piece jazz craftsmanship. If you're looking for something different, "Tom Sawyer" will drop your jaw - particularly if you're into Rush and/or Prog Rock - it's jazz, but it's not!! These guys provide some of the freshest takes on traditional areas of jazz of anyone I've heard in recent memory - if you really like music and jazz, give it a whirl!
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With some of the same tone and feeling as Nik Bärtsch's Ronin modal improvisations, this album of the postmodern avant-garde trio The Bad Plus demonstrates why they were selected for the recent album of Disney covers, Everybody Wants to Be a Cat. Their deconstruction of familiar tunes and their own compositions (three by bassist Anderson, two by drummer King, and one by pianist Iverson) are energetic and often noisy. Each musician is a percussionist, each a melody maker. The scratchy, nervous music may be jarring to many, but others may appreciate the cleverness, humor, and audacity. The lyricism between the discord, as with track 5, Giant, arises as a fresh breeze. The well-matched team of musicians create a fresh, bright and challenging sound. The problem is that repeated listening tarnishes that brilliance. The musical approach soon seems to be only a gimmick.
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As a rock fan - and a prog rock fan in particular - I was intrigued by the concept of this CD so I picked it up. And I must say that I love it! I've always dabbled a little bit in jazz, but this recording fuses the two genres in a way that I find appealing and even fascinating. Unlike some of the reviewers, I love the "Tom Sawyer" cover; it is anchored enough in the original and then takes off with its own ideas and the awe-inspiring musicianship of the group. Having enjoyed this CD I'm going to get the others too. In the end, I think jazz aficionados can take comfort from the fact that this CD will expose some to jazz who otherwise wouldn't have given it a shot.
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Format: Audio CD
Overall, I would rate this as the Bad Plus's best album. With the excpetion of suspicious activity it has the best songwriting and it has the best adapations of cover songs of all bad plus albumns. The covers are are good choices and the adaptations are brilliant. Physical cities and Giant are interstesting new songs. Suspicious activity introduced more new songs, and in that way is better than Prog, but Prog is solid from start to finish and the overall consistency makes it Bad Plus's best albumn yet.
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