Jazz Group The Bad Plus Visit Cincinnati for First Time

IMG_9077The first time I heard The Bad Plus I was at a record store in Hamilton, Ohio called Galaxy CD. And, without getting overly nostalgic and truly showing my age, I’ll just say: man, I really miss that place.

Anyway, I was there with my best friend, Andy, and he had said he had heard The Bad Plus on NPR on his way down to Oxford. Galaxy had a copy of the album Give in their used bin, so I (as we used to do before we could just look it up on YouTube or whatever) popped the CD into the listening station, put on the set of headphones, listened, and immediately bought the album.

My love of the group has only grown over the years, and, after missing them in New York a few years ago, was excited to see that they were coming to Xavier to play the intimate Gallagher Student Center Theater in Cincinnati.

The Bad Plus is a jazz trio consisting of Ethan Iverson on piano, Dave King on drums, and Reid Anderson on upright bass. The group is known for their unique take on songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Velouria” by the Pixies, and “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper, which they convert into almost unrecognizable, but deeply intricate versions of themselves.

And the show…it was remarkable. It is almost disorienting at times how the members of The Bad Plus seem to move all over the rhythmic center of a song without ever losing time or place. That sort of musicianship takes discipline, and knowing your bandmates well. It is clear from the performance that this is a group who function as one while still making their own statements as though alone on stage.

Overall, the show was incredible, exactly what I had expected from this group. From here, The Bad Plus go on to Indianapolis, Detroit, and their hometown of Minneapolis before a lengthy run through the New Year at the Village Vanguard in New York.