Drum God David King and the Bad Plus

March 18, 2009

Exactly one week ago I took Miles to see the Bad Plus. It was well worth the trek to far-off West Vancouver (for those who don’t know, a rich suburb of Vancouver). Months ago when the concert was announced, I knew I had to take Miles, mainly for one reason: hearing drummer David King.

I actually took him to a Bad Plus show a few years ago, but we had to go again. That’s how good King and the other musicians in this atypical jazz trio are. King didn’t disappoint. In my mind, he was the focal point. Even when pianist Ethan Iverson played virtuosic solos, my eyes and ears were locked on King. He was all over the drum kit (and his charming toy percussion instruments), never getting repetitive with his rhythmic patterns, segueing between focused restraint and well-timed explosions. On a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb“, King was masterful: a brush in one hand, a stick in the other, each doing something different but complementary. And then there’s that look of unadulterated joy on his face. King’s a drum God.

Exposing Miles to King’s drumming style is part of my master plan to convince him that jazz, not metal, is the way to go. I don’t seriously think I can sway him, and I support his forays into metal. But part of me wonders what impact a drummer like King could have on Miles. Above all, King and the Bad Plus show that you can pull off playing creative jazz with an alternative rock/pop attitude.

By the way, the concert consisted of two sets: the trio played mostly original instrumentals in the first half; they did offbeat covers with vocalist Wendy Lewis in the second half. She sang beautifully, as did bassist Reid Anderson on tunes including “Heart of Gold“. I would love to hear more singing from Lewis and Anderson in the future, but when it comes to the Bad Plus, my heart will always be with King.

The last time I saw the Bad Plus was in 2007 at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. In a circus tent, they put on an amazing show that also included two sets: one featuring the core trio and another with Happy Apple, King’s other band, which morphed with the Bad Plus to play nothing but Ornette Coleman tunes. I mention this gig for no good reason except to gloat that I was there and to use it as an excuse to insert some photos I took of lovely Edinburgh:

Edinburgh Castle and fountain:

Edinburgh castle & fountain

Stunning Scottish landscape:

Stunning Scottish landscape


One comment

  1. Chris — gotta love the Bad Plus. Didn’t catch them this time around, but have them on the iPod.

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