June 21, 2024


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CD review: The Bad Plus – Never Stop II 2018: Video

The first album from the Bad Plus since Orrin Evans took over the piano chair from departing co-founder Ethan Iverson, 2017’s Never Stop II is a focused, atmospheric set of all-original songs. Technically, the album is a follow-up to the band’s first album of all-original material, 2010’s Never Stop.

However, with Evans on board, the album primarily works as a debut for the trio. That said, Evans fits in nicely with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King, and the band sounds both fresh and familiar. For Evans’ part, he brings over 20 years of experience and deep post-bop chops to the trio. Nonetheless, these songs retain the trio’s immediately recognizable style, rife with spare melodies, off-kilter rhythms, and subtle, genre-bending aesthetics. Much of that has to do with Anderson and King, who continue to play in their distinctively minimalist fashion, boiling various jazz, rock, and funk rhythms down to their core elements. What’s particularly compelling is how the trio sets up each song with its deft, Spartan touch, and then launches into more loose, improvisatory midsections that allow for intense group interplay and harmonic asides. Tracks like “Hurricane Birds,” with its minor-key theme, roiling time signature, and skittering, jungle-influenced beat, could easily be a cover of a Radiohead song (something the band has literally done in the past). Similarly, the brightly attenuated “Safe Passage,” with its ringing eighth-note opening statement, sounds enticingly like something the late Peanuts pianist Vince Guaraldi might have done if he had had the chance to cover a Lauryn Hill song. Elsewhere, the trio brings out yet more of its nuanced influences, splitting the difference between pulsing modern jazz and melodic, Beatlesque pop on “1983 Regional All-Star” and diving headlong into the angular, Thelonious Monk-does-punk of “Lean in the Archway.” There are also several harmonically enveloping numbers such as the wavelike, McCoy Tyner-influenced “Boffadem” and the delicate, sweetly enveloping ballad “Kerosene II.”

  1. Hurricane Birds
  2. Trace
  3. Boffadem
  4. Safe Passage
  5. 1983 Regional All
  6. Salvages
  7. Commitment
  8. Lean in the Archway
  9. Kerosene II
  10. Seams

Orrin Evans: piano 
Reid Anderson: bass 
Dave King: drums

Free regular download

Label: Legbreaker Records

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