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The Bad Plus Celebrate Two Milestones

September 16th, 2010

The Bad Plus – The Bowery Ballroom – September 15, 2010

The Bad Plus - The Bowery Ballroom - September 15, 2010
A jazz band playing a gig in a rock club can seem like a bit of a gimmick. Then again, a lot of things the Bad Plus do sometimes seem like gimmicks at first glance. But sleight of hand hasn’t kept this trio in the jazz elite the past 10 years. And it wasn’t gimmickry that brought the audience to The Bowery Ballroom last night, successfully demanding a second encore as Ethan Iverson (piano), Dave King (drums) and Reid Anderson (bass) celebrated a decade as the Bad Plus and the release of their newest album.

Playing mostly tunes from Tuesday’s release, Never Stop, the band romped through dancehall beats, pensive blues, expansive pop numbers and, of course, uncaged piano jazz. The Bad Plus is a representative democracy with each member adding his point of view to the set. Iverson’s “Bill Hickman at Home,” proved to be a brooding-blues image of the slowed-down home life of the famed stunt driver, and King’s “My Friend Metatron” was a shape-shifting revelation. But Anderson’s intense compositions marked the night’s most powerful moments. “People Like You” was a soul-stroking masterpiece, tiptoeing to its climax as the audience silently looked on for nearly eight minutes. I’ve never experienced the Ballroom like this: You could actually hear the floorboards creaking beneath the swaying crowd with barely a stifled cough to break the trance.

Late in the set, the title track—a fractured disco number—got such a rousing ovation, that it wasn’t clear if the clapping would ever end. Later, the Bad Plus returned for an encore and reprised the song in its entirety, just on a lark, clearly enjoying their rock-star moment. Even after throwing in their tempo-shifting take on the Rodgers and Hart staple “Have You Met Miss. Jones,” the crowd was not satisfied. For a jazz trio renowned for reconstructing rock and pop covers on a nightly basis, it took a second encore for them to oblige their rock-club surroundings, offering a perfect cover of Aphex Twin’s “Flim” to end a perfect 10th-birthday party. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com