#136 – Dick Bernard: The Bad Plus

Written by admin on December 26th, 2009

UPDATE: The venue at which the Bad Plus is playing New Years Eve is the Village Vanguard in New York City. The National Public Radio program which will broadcast part of its performance, plus many others, including at the Dakota in Minneapolis, is apparently Toast of the Nation on December 31st. There is a very interesting history of the Village Vanguard at its website.

Truth be told, I’m no music expert. I just enjoy good music. And last night we made an excellent decision to see the Christmas show of the Jazz group, The Bad Plus, at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. They are three hugely talented musicians: David King, drums; Reid Anderson, bass; Ethan Iverson, piano.

They will be part of the headline group on National Public Radio’s New Years Eve live this coming Thursday night. They’ll be performing at a Manhattan club, their next gig.

You can see them perform here. They’re a hot international group.

As a matter of course, I don’t follow specific performers, or even specialize in any specific genre of music. I just like good music.

I’d never heard of The Bad Plus till last summer when I had the good fortune of being on a committee with Dwayne King, and in the course of conversation he mentioned his son, a drummer, who had this group, The Bad Plus. He was obviously proud of his son, and I looked them up. A couple of weeks ago Dwayne mentioned the gig at the Dakota, where they’ve done a Christmas concert for the last ten years (to an almost empty house the first year), so we “signed”.

Even with questionable weather last night, the Dakota, located on last nights near deserted Nicollet Mall, was near packed with fans, and the trio gave a great show.

The Bad Plus members are in the vicinity of 40, and in the Jazz world, 40 is almost an infant. Paying the dues is a long term process. The talent of the group is such, and their particular brand of jazz so unique, that they have caught on. Their staple is original compositions they’ve composed and perfected.

I mentioned their name at coffee yesterday morning to the daughter of a good friend who’s connected to the music biz in LA, and her eyes lit up.

There is talent, for certain, in performers like these. But any talent, not worked at, is only raw talent. Then there’s a matter of paying one’s dues – playing to almost empty houses; practicing; networking…it isn’t easy.

Sometimes it all comes together, and this is what is happening for three talented young men, two from suburban Minneapolis and the other from a small town in western Wisconsin.

If we stay awake long enough, we’ll catch them New Years Eve in New York!

Check them out on YouTube.