I recently reviewed Never Stop, the latest CD from eclectic acoustic trio The Bad Plus, for Las Vegas City Life. Click here to go directly to the review, or see the full text below.
Whether covering Radiohead, Nirvana or David Bowie, or doing its own thing, The Bad Plus always comes equipped with unusual powers of reinvention and real understanding of how to create musical drama, skills that served it well on For All I Care, 2008’s covers album with singer Wendy Lewis. An acoustic jazz trio, with sensibilities also rooted in rock and classical, adding a vocalist and taking on Wilco’s “Radio Cure,” Yes’s “Roundabout” and Stravinsky? What’s not to like?
For Never Stop, it’s all originals, all the time, and pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King don’t disappoint.
The stuttering theme and rhythms of the title track, edged with marching rhythms, feels like hypnotic pop with a swelling chorus. Two pieces, “People Like You” and “Bill Hickman at Home,” sprawl past the nine-minute mark: The former is a quiet, harmonically rich ballad that alternately surges and relaxes, while the latter, with Iverson on an antique-sounding piano with pointedly iffy intonation, is half bar room swagger, half arty experimentation, with plenty of open space for Anderson’s surprising explorations.
The trio brings the chewy funk on the pulsing “Beryl Loves to Groove,” and goes for bluesy gospel on closer “Super America.” No charge for the handclaps