Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Bad Plus "On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring": Reviews of the premiere at Duke

I'm excited to hear The Bad Plus's take on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for two reasons. First, it's Stravinsky. Second, they're The Bad Plus. I've been listening to Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, and Dave King live and on record since their very earliest shows at the old Dakota in Minneapolis. I've been reading their press for nearly as long, including the ranting that went on when they were signed to Columbia at a time when other jazz artists were being tossed. There was talk about TBP being a fad, a fashion, an artificial construct of the money-grubbing music biz, just another cover band. Instead, they have stayed deeply interesting, evolving and changing around a rock-solid core. They have never disappointed me, and I trust them.

So, how was the show at Duke last Saturday?

According to The Thread, the Duke Performances blog:

"The Bad Plus made Rite their own in every way, from David King's restless drumming to Reid Anderson's rangy bass and Ethan Iverson's catalyzing piano.... When they finished, they looked one part relieved ('We got through it!') and two parts excited ('That was fun!') as the audience roared to life with at least one audible war-whoop answering the final drum crash.... The Bad Plus left us with the exciting feeling of having seen something special being born."

From CVNC (formerly Classical Voice of North Carolina, now expanded to cover many more disciplines):

"The Bad Plus...wowed the sell-out crowd...with an audacious reworking of The Rite of Spring...the music that kicked the doors shut on the 19th century once and for all. Over the last 98 years, some of the juice has drained out of The Rite, especially from the piano version, but Ethan Iverson's piano, Reid Anderson's bass, and David King's drums fully recharge it for this century in the group's ferocious re-scoring that packs all the grand noise of the orchestral version into a trio.... To hear the unforgettable motif central to The Rite conveyed by the various tones of King's percussion set was amazing, and when it came from Anderson's bass, it just slayed me. But then, here came Iverson picking it out on the piano, sounding like a nightingale...ravishing. The whole was so rich and engrossing and alive that it seemed to pass in a much shorter time than its actual 40 minutes."

Iverson titled a new post on his blog, Do the Math, "Victory Lap." He wrote: "TBP expects to be playing On Sacred Ground frequently in upcoming seasons."

Thanks to John Scherer for pointing me toward Iverson's blog and The Thread's review.

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