The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus Biography

Forget categories and catch phrases – the sound of The Bad Plus is distinctive, eclectic and formidable.

The Bad Plus have exploded all notions of what a jazz piano trio should sound like – whether at outdoor rock festivals, jazz clubs or symphony halls.

The Los Angeles Times ranked the trio “among the leaders of what might be called the Nu Jazz movement.” Newsweek declared their 2005 release Suspicious Activity? to be “among the freshest sounding albums of the year.” And according to Rolling Stone, “By any standard, jazz or otherwise, this is mighty, moving music … hot players with hard-rock hearts.” In short, a diverse array of music lovers has been seduced by The Bad Plus and their earnest, dizzying musicianship.

The group dug its roots in the wood-paneled, sump-pumped basements of the Midwest. Drummer David King and bassist Reid Anderson hooked up as teens in their native Minnesota, bouncing between junior high rock bands and long nights listening to John Coltrane and The Police. Soon after, Anderson met Wisconsin-reared pianist Ethan Iverson and formed an alliance – sort of. The threesome played for the first time in 1990, then went their separate ways for the better part of the decade.

Their paths crossed again for a one-off gig in Minneapolis in 2000. Thrilled by the instant chemistry, the group tracked a self-titled disc for a Spanish indie label, Fresh Sound – a sneak-attack set would soon be hailed by the New York Times as one of 2001’s best releases of the year.

A deal with Columbia Records followed, and amid relentless touring the band crafted material for 2003’s These Are the Vistas. Produced by Tchad Blake (Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits) the album contained riveting originals alongside sharp readings of Nirvana, Aphex Twin and Blondie. Said Esquire magazine, “Can one album single handedly make jazz relevant again? Should you care? One listen to The Bad Plus’s These Are the Vistas will damn sure make you care.”

Two more albums followed in rapid succession – Give in 2004 and Suspicious Activity? in 2005. Worldwide touring continued, which further cemented the trio’s reputation as being passionate and powerful.

The Bad Plus made their Heads Up International debut with the 2007 release of Prog. Co-helmed by veteran UK producer Tony Platt (Bob Marley, AC/DC), the disc showcases six singularly original compositions alongside crackling takes on Tears For Fears, Burt Bacharach, David Bowie and Rush.

Their 2009 followup album, For All I Care, shatters the common preconceptions about high art versus pop culture by juxtaposing compositions from 20th century rock and pop artists with those of 20th century classical artists. Set for release on February 3, 2009, For All I Care features the works of Kurt Cobain, Igor Stravinsky, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Györgi Ligeti, Pink Floyd and several others. For All I Care also marks the first Bad Plus recording to include a guest vocalist. Minneapolis alt-rock singer Wendy Lewis steps into the fray and takes the trio’s ongoing experimental ride to a new level of exploration and sophistication.

In the studio as well as onstage, The Bad Plus proudly foregoes convention in favor of curiosity and craftsmanship – recognizing and respecting the rules while ripping them to shreds.


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