Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Bad Plus: A Christmas tale

Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson, and Dave King--collectively known as The Bad Plus--will play three nights at the Dakota starting this Friday, Dec. 23, skipping Christmas Eve, returning on Christmas night and again on Monday the 26th, for two sets each night at 7 and 9 p.m.

This will be their twelfth Christmas at the Dakota. According to club owner Lowell Pickett, here's how the tradition began. (Note: Dave King is from here and still lives here. Reid Anderson grew up in Minneapolis; Ethan Iverson is from Menomonie, Wisconsin.)
Dave called me in 2000 and said he had two friends coming into town for the holidays to record some stuff. He wanted to know if they could play a couple of nights. I ran an ad for "Dave King and Friends" and we charged $5.
Dave saw the ad and called me and said, "Can we change that to The Bad Plus?" Who was The Bad Plus? Nobody knew, so I changed it to "The Bad Plus Featuring Dave King and Friends."
Recorded in Minneapolis on December 28, 2000, the trio's eponymously titled debut was released the following summer on the Spanish label Fresh Sound New Talent.

When the record came out, they were going to do two CD releases, one in New York City at a bar that Reid knew about, and one at the Dakota in September. But then 9/11 happened and everything was cancelled. We said we'd do the holiday thing again. 
That December, Ben Ratliff of the New York Times included their CD in the Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2001. In 2002, they played at the Village Vanguard and signed with Columbia. The next year, they played the Newport Jazz Festival.
Writing about Newport for The Boston Phoenix, Ted Drozdowski noted, "The jury's out on whether they're the next Medeski Martin and Wood or just a flash in the pan." One never knows, do one?

What endeared me to those guys was, Ethan and Reid were both at the Dakota for our very first McCoy Tyner show in 1988, when Louis Hayes was playing drums. They didn't know each other at the time. We weren't full, by the way. The following fall, we had a show called the Timeless All-Stars--Cedar Walton, Harold Land, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, Billy Higgins. An amazing band. Reid and Ethan came to that, too. Ethan told me it was his dream to play the Dakota someday.

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