This past Thursday night I had the honor of seeing, The Bad Plus, at The Neptune Theater in what turned out to be an incredible performance. I have been a fan of The Neptune Theater ever since my first show there which was Snarky Puppy. I think the venue is an excellent size, and usually has pretty good sound as well. Upon arriving Thursday night, I was surprised to find seats on the floor right in front of the stage. This was my first concert at The Neptune that has been seated, but looking back on the performance it fit the atmosphere very well.
Having no opener for them, The Bad Plus came out on stage and instantly started burning on a tune I didn’t recognize, and eventually morphed into a roaring chart titled “My Friend Metatron”. Instantly blown away, I knew the entire performance was going to contain the highest level of musicianship. It was after this tune that bassist Reid Anderson finally addressed the crowd. Showing a remarkably dry sense of humor throughout the performance, Anderson welcomed us all to the show and made everyone chuckle before the lads brought down the energy with a sensitive cover of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.
As the tune progressed, The Bad Plus continued to expand our understanding of the song by adding dissonant harmonies and convoluting the pulse more and more. Following up the cover came an Ornette Coleman tune entitled “Law Years”. The juxtaposition of these two songs one right after the other perfectly highlighted that, The Bad Plus, are not only musicians that know what the crowd likes to hear, but are also heavy jazz players that love to venture off into the realm of free improvisation as they abandoned tonal center and traditional rhythm. The Ornette Coleman tune found The Bad Plus experimenting with textures and harsh timbres that any free jazz fanatic would have been impressed by. What followed for the next hour came an inspiring mix of both pop and heavy jazz tunes that shifted along the spectrum from the most “out” to the most “in”, inciting cheers and immense applause from the audience countless times.
Over all, The Bad Plus demonstrated an ability to combine the familiar with the unknown, all the while remaining tasteful. Not a single note or idea was played that the music didn’t call for, which showed that pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King poses an immense sense of maturity and trust in each other as musicians. I would recommend seeing The Bad Plus to anyone who is a fan of music and can appreciate witnessing the experience and comfortability of three killin’ musicians who have spent the last 17 years shedding and making music together.
– DJ sneak peaks (Gabe)