The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

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The Bad Plus: Tom Sawyer
The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

This US jazz trio comes with formidable advance notices: Rolling Stone (not exactly a jazz journal) described their music as "action packed and totally schizophrenic -- in a good way".

I don't hear it quite that way.

They certainly pound up a storm sometimes (the thundering repeated piano chords and percussion in the nine minute Physical Cities here) but can also craft music of great delicacy and refinement (the album opens with a romantic treatment of Everybody Wants to Rule The World and later Bowie's Life on Mars? emerges from a long and digressive intro only to be quickly deconstructed with sledgehammer subtlety.

They draw from many sources (This Guy's In Love With You and heavy-metal Rush's Tom Sawyer also get Bad Plus' deft and angular treatment) but their most powerful material are the originals such as Mint which stalks somewhere between a minuet and Cecil Taylor, if you can imagine that.

And it swings.

Physical Cities will probably drive you up the wall (ideal neighbour-baiting music should you need it) but everywhere else here there is incendiary musicianship put into the service of sometimes demanding but rewarding material.

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