Bad Plus Seems Jolted Alive On 'Never Stop II' For the past 18 years, the Bad Plus, has been playing catchy, high energy music and redefining what a jazz trio can be. This year pianist Ethan Iverson announced he is leaving the trio. But contrary to popular belief, Bad Plus found a new pianist and released a new album.
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Bad Plus Seems Jolted Alive On 'Never Stop II'

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Bad Plus Seems Jolted Alive On 'Never Stop II'

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Music

Bad Plus Seems Jolted Alive On 'Never Stop II'

Bad Plus Seems Jolted Alive On 'Never Stop II'

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For the past 18 years, the Bad Plus, has been playing catchy, high energy music and redefining what a jazz trio can be. This year pianist Ethan Iverson announced he is leaving the trio. But contrary to popular belief, Bad Plus found a new pianist and released a new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "LAYIN' A STRIP FOR THE HIGHER-SELF STATE LINE")

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In any work scenario, it's hard to predict what the dynamic will be when someone leaves and a new personality comes in. For anyone who knows the jazz trio The Bad Plus, it was hard to imagine what would happen to this sound after their pianist left. It's not the kind of thing a lot of groups can get over. But our reviewer Tom Moon, who's been listening to their latest album, says they did it.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King met 1989 as teenagers in Minneapolis. They played their first gig a decade later and quickly developed a reputation for boisterous, supercharged live performances.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "NEVER STOP")

MOON: For the next 18 years, The Bad Plus reigned as disrupters among piano trios, challenging jazz convention with high-concept recordings and constant rock band style touring. The run looked like it was about to end last year when the band announced Iverson's departure over creative differences. But then news came The Bad Plus would continue with a new pianist.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "TRACE")

MOON: That's Orrin Evans, the prodigiously talented pianist from Philadelphia. His arrival tests the core idea behind The Bad Plus, that in this group there is no leader. It's almost an avant garde collective, a fluid environment in which players frequently shift roles between foreground and background. What happens when a new character slides into the mix?

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "TRACE")

MOON: It's still The Bad Plus, but with stronger emphasis on rhythm. The new album features originals by each of the three musicians, and they're exceedingly intricate, built on a fitful, chop shop approach to timekeeping. That turns out to be Orrin Evans' wheelhouse. In his own groups, which include a trio and a big band, he's usually quick to show off his technical skill. But in this setting he hangs back. The restraint opens things up in unexpected ways.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "SALVAGES")

MOON: Usually when a key musician leaves an established jazz trio, it's game over for the group. Not so with the rebooted Bad Plus. They seem jolted alive on this first recording. It was made over a few days of live playing in the studio before the three had performed together much, and it makes you wonder where these three will go once they really get to know each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "HURRICANE BIRDS")

SHAPIRO: The latest album from The Bad Plus is "Never Stop II." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BAD PLUS' "HURRICANE BIRDS")

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