The Bad Plus play UK in May

US piano trio The Bad Plus present their popular jazz-pop crossover in five UK dates in May

The Bad Plus are set to tour the UK this May, with five dates covering Bristol, Manchester, Southampton, Nottingham and Norwich.

Hailing from Minnesota, USA, the trio are made up of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King, and have been playing their mixture of avant-garde jazz to international audiences since they formed in 2000. Their output so far has been prolific both in terms of original compositions and genre-subverting covers, from Nirvana to Pink Floyd.

Described as "bad to the bone, hot players with hard-rock hearts" and "about as badass as highbrow gets" by Rolling Stone, The Bad Plus will play Bristol's Colston Hall on 12 May, Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music on 13 May, Southampton's Turner Sims on 14 May, Nottingham's Lakeside Arts Centre on 15 May, and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival on 16 May.

You can book tickets directly with the venue websites above and find out more about The Bad Plus at

Here's Andy Hamilton's review of the band's eighth studio album, Made Possible, from November 2012's issue of Jazz Journal:



Pound For Pound; Seven Minute Mind; Re-Elect That; Wolf Out; Sing For A Silver Dollar; For My Eyes Only; I Want To Feel Good Part 2; In Stitches; Victoria (57.52)
Ethan Iverson (p); Reid Anderson (b); Dave King (d). NY, c. 2012.
Concord 3711946

In their decade-long existence, these professed "avant-garde populists" have presented an uncompromising body of originals, plus genre-crossing covers, to a wide audience. Anderson and King grew up together in Minneapolis, while Iverson comes from neighbouring Wisconsin. They first played together in 1989, but only founded The Bad 11 years later. In 2003, their These Are the Vistas made a big impact with interpretations of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Blondie’s Heart Of Glass. Subsequent albums, with a mix of originals and pop covers, showed The Bad Plus as one of the most exciting of contemporary jazz ensembles.

Their success is partly down to what drummer Dave King calls "some of the most punk energy I’ve ever seen or felt as a musician" - not expected from a piano trio, but totally believable. Material and treatment both have a popular appeal, though Made Possible, their eighth studio release, is a departure in being entirely originals, plus one cover, Paul Motian's Victoria - a tender tribute to the late drummer. There's hardly a straightahead swing groove on this album, with rock rhythms and odd time-signatures predominant, and some of the tracks - Pound For Pound, for instance - sound like contemporary pop songs.

Minimalism and repetition are guiding principles, the band claim. For instance, In Stitches "was...not minimalist in practice, but [I wanted] to really just focus in on these few elements and take it as far as it could go," says Reid Anderson. "I think that what makes our music accessible is's about clarity and it's about the song," he adds. But if the basic material is minimal, its treatment is far from simple. Though a rock feel predominates throughout - which must be a factor in the band's popularity - it's constantly varied, and Seven Minute Mind's out-of-kilter rhythms are followed by the Ornettish free tempo of Re-Elect That.

A new layer of complexity is the trio's first use of electronics - Anderson spent a week adding a layer of drum machines, synths and samplers. Re-Elect That morphs into a piece of rather Teutonic-sounding electronic bombast - not wholly to my taste, but different! - while much subtler is the treatment of what sound like solo piano exercises at the start of Seven Minute Mind. That track isn’t the only one to allude to Western classical music, and I'm sure I heard some Janacek in there. But there's so much to say about this remarkable disc, it invites an article rather than a review.


Sally Evans-Darby

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