fb-pixel Skip to main content

The Bad Plus, ‘The Rite of Spring’

The Bad Plus gained notoriety beginning some 14 years ago as a jazz-piano trio that preferred Pixies and Black Sabbath to standards. They’ve also produced a strong book of knotty originals (favorite title: “Cheney Piñata”). Now, they take on Igor Stravinsky and his 1913 world-shaker, “The Rite of Spring,” which they performed at the ICA last February. It’s a tour de force. The work’s relentless, odd-accented, propulsive rhythms are a perfect fit for this band. But what’s most impressive here is the attention to detail and dynamics, especially pianist Ethan Iverson’s precise articulation, revealing the dulcimer-like Russian folk ditties laced through the piece amid the keyboard-slamming climaxes. That’s not to take away from the arrangement as a whole, which condenses a large orchestra down to three (with a couple of small overdubs). Bassist Reid Anderson renders fiendishly tricky melodies with upper-register pizzicato. And drummer David King, an uninhibited basher, shows textbook control in his cymbal crescendos. This stripped-down “Rite” offers another way to hear the piece, and another understanding of why it’s remained new. (Out Tuesday)


Essential “Spring Rounds”


Jon Garelick can be reached at jon.garelick4@gmail.com.