Sunday, November 14, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 11/14/04

"A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on." -- William S. Burroughs

The Bad Plus - These Are the Vistas
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This is the first of 2 albums that this jazz trio has released on a major label. I finally purchased a copy of this one last night when I saw them perform live, and I find myself enjoying this one even more than their most recent release. My copy happens to be double bad plus (or bad plus doublegood -- my Orwellian newspeak skills are weak) since they signed my copy of the album after the show. As with practically all musicians, athletes and other celebrities who engage in signing autographs, their signatures are almost completely incomprehensible.

As opposed to Give, their newest release, this one appeals more to my jazz sensibilities, despite the boisterous rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". This album is solid from start to finish and doesn't leave me with the same so-so impression of their studio work than Give. I say this since, as with many groups I listen to, I get the most enjoyment listening to the rawness and spontaneity of live performances.

Last night's performance, at Ann Arbor's historic and majestic Michigan Theater, was a doubleplus good display of their prowess in a live setting. I was surprised by the number of new songs that I hadn't heard before, with "Empire Strikes Backward" being the apex of the bunch. The audience was especially amused and impressed by their chaotic deconstruction of Queen's "We Are the Champions", their lone cover of the night, and one that surprised me, then wowed me.

While all 3 members brought their A game, drummer Dave King was an absolute treat to watch. I've seen a number of impressive drummers live the past few years, but King was perhaps the most impressive, right up there with legend Rashied Ali. The speed, the brute force, and the technical virtuosity were all quite a sight to behold, as was his occasional use of a vintage Fisher Price chime toy called a Happy Apple (he's also the drummer for a band called Happy Apple).

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These guys are going to be opening for the Pixies soon in Chicago, which should be a blast. Hopefully they'll continue to make jazz relevant to a younger audience. Older, stuffy, conservative traditionalists may loathe these guys, but their talent is clearly evident and the hoardes of happy faces after last night's show (mine included) is proof enough of that. Let the old fogies go listen to one of the Marsalises or something, since they just may be too doubleplus old to get a kick out of the Bad Plus.


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