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Think of a world in which the continuum between Beethoven and the Pixies had been left unbroken. Think of a world in which instrumental power jazz would be free of Jamie Cullum. Think of a world where modern classical vamps would contain 0% clayderman fat and where innocent boppy pop tunes would not spell b-r-i-t-n-e-y.

Now think of the Bad Plus.

 

I don’t know if they would be happy reading this introduction, but something tells me they would not disagree so much. I mean, how many times do you come across a traditional piano trio combo sounding like both Schubert and Soul Coughing at the same time?

It amazes me how much music there is out there that is still unknown to a lot of people, how even the Bad Plus (which, if one goes by their presence in the international festival circuits and their contract to Sony, is not an obscure group) were unknown to me until a month ago. You’ve got to thank the people who go through my orders at amazon.com for suggesting them to me…

And you’ve got to thank Pandora. The best thing since wonderbra (or was it wonderbread, I’m not sure…)

 

Suspicious activity is their latest, and probably best, album, because it features more long tunes from Reid Anderson, the bassist. His sense for the intrinsic beauty of melody is brutally honest, in a time where music has never been so redundant and inward-looking. Listen to Prehensile dream or lost of love and try to be cynical about it: there is not a hint of misplaced sentimentalism, not a note that should not be where it is. It speaks the truth, pure and simple.

 

But the Bad Plus are more than that, and they’re more than the sum of its brilliant parts. Dave King is the beefiest non-straight-rock drummer that jazz is seeing right now, and Ethan Iverson’s left hand is scary. His right hand is scarier.

 

The Bad Plus have a myspace site here.

 

And when you thought it was all over, there is also Happy Apple, but that’s another story…