The Rite of Spring
The Bad Plus
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The Bad Plus are famous (or infamous) for their cover songs. Yet the jazz trio take this concept to an ambitious extreme with their own version of Igor Stravinsky’s once-controversial and now landmark music for the ballet. Written and first performed in 1913, this piece actually has many cornerstones of TBP’s sound: unconventional tonalities (“Evocation of the Ancestors…”), odd meters (“Games of the Two…”), primal rhythms (“The Augurs of Spring”), tension-and-release dynamics (“Glorification of the Chosen One”), and well-applied dissonance (“Ritual of Abduction”). Often playing the traditionalist role in the band’s chemistry, pianist Ethan Iverson takes a starring role here, firmly linking the band to the work’s classical origins. Drummer Dave King adeptly highlights the primal nature of the ballet’s subject matter. Even though much of this album is the three of them playing the material together—bassist Reid Anderson provides orchestral harmony and pulsing rhythm—the album’s “Introduction” includes electronic touches and production trickery. Things soon settle in, and The Bad Plus manage to pull this Herculean task off all on their own.
I have long believed that The Bad Plus can do no wrong, so my review is admittedly biased. When I saw on their tour schedule years ago that they'd be covering Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, I thought it was the perfect fit. I'm so thrilled it is now available for me to hear. I listened to it straight through two times today, while doing laundry and other chores around the house, and couldn't be happier. Hearing those familiar, haunting themes get the Bad Plus treatment is a dream come true. I imagine that Stravinsky himself would love hearing what these three madmen managed to do with his groundbreaking work.
Good concept but needs work
There have been over a dozen piano versions of Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) since 1969. Most have been for 4 hands. My favorite is a BIS 1987, 2 hand performance and arrangement by Dag Achatz on a Bösendorfer Model 275.
This performance starts strong and is technically very good. It needs a missing emotional connection that carries the listener through to the end.
but uneven account. The work is too lare for a jazz trio. The show little creativity in this transcription which is rare for them. The better parts one the album would have served better in as an abbreviated commentary. For a better idea on how to do this, check out Thomas Gansch's "Der Swing Von Nieberlungen" to hear how it's done right. -Bz
Formed: 1990 in Minneapolis, MN
Years Active: '00s, '10s