When the Bad Plus recorded their latest album, “Made Possible,” they stowed themselves away in upstate New York for two weeks — an unusual move by contemporary jazz standards. But, then again, this trio has never fully embraced the playbook handed them by the New York jazz scene.
“We wanted to approach it more like a rock project, where you take some time away from everything and really try to get it right. A lot of times in jazz you record it in a day or two in New York,” says piano player Ethan Iverson.
Formed in 2000, the Bad Plus have been revered for weaving elements of rock, punk and metal into their experimental sound. Their covers of Nirvana, Wilco and Queen have become crowd pleasers across the globe.
“From the beginning, it felt very different than any other group I’d played with. It just felt like everything was available. There was electronica, pop, rock, whatever seeping into it, but it was natural. It wasn’t forced,” says Iverson. “It was just what was on the table when the three of us got together.”
And, unlike most nationally lionized jazz acts, BP has no frontman to position under a spotlight. When Iverson, Reid Anderson and Dave King roll into Chris’ Jazz Cafe this weekend, they’ll have 13 years of material at their disposal, and no leader to determine the next tune. It’s all on the table.
“That’s another way we operate more like a rock band: You just say, ‘the sound of the music is these guys’ — a collective. And, in my opinion, that’s where jazz should go,’ Iverson says. “It’s too much star soloist playing with some cats somewhere. If it’s the band’s music, then everyone has equal responsibility. That’s how we see it.”