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The Bad Plus

Bill Radke

Michael Raphael

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The Bad Plus
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The Bad Plus is pianist Ethan Iverson, drummer Dave King, and bassist Reid Anderson. Your new CD is called "Prog" as in progressive rock.

EI: No, no, just as in "progressive."

I was going to ask you about that, because, when I think "prog" I think "prog rock" and there's Rush and David Bowie in there, but I wondered, was that also directed at the jazz world at all, like you're saying this is jazz, this is progressive jazz.

Reid Anderson: The word "prog" clearly is a reference to "prog rock," but what those bands were doing really was sort of reinventing what that music could be. They were reimagining it. And I think that that's what our whole M.O. is. Like, how can we reimagine this music, how can we look at it from a new perspective. But from our own, very personal perspective really, how can you take songs from the rock and pop world and play them in an acoustic trio like this, as improvisers? Those are all the questions that I think our- that we ask ourselves all the time.

So when people say you're controversial, what does it mean to you to be controversial?

RA: Once in a while we read that someone thinks were morons.

DK: The fact of the matter is we're a progressive jazz group that travels around in a van. And we're not doing that as a joke. And we've had to look at ourselves to, and go, man, you know. "Chariots of Fire," can we pull this off, you know? It's like, we mean it. That's the thing. It's like, yeah, we will pull it off, and we do do this. Because, we care, you know?

Ok, but, "Chariots of Fire?" I mean like, that would be, when you say that we're not doing this ironically. I mean the choice of "Chariots of Fire," there's no intention there to - you're not winking at anybody?

DK: We can see how that would be perceived, but I'm telling you this. This is just from our perspective. That tune has power. And let me tell you, if you hear that song anywhere, I don't care who you are, you're the hardest of the hardcore loggers from frickin' Oregon, and that song comes on, you start going, "I can do it! I can chop this tree down!" It's triumphant.

EI: You know, yeah, I mean. The guy who wrote is a cat named Vangelis, right? And I'll guarantee you. When Vangelis finished writing that, he probably jogged around the house eight times, shouting to the world. And also he of course could retire after he wrote it. Because it was a huge hit.

DK: It wasn't a hit by mistake.

EI: No kidding.

And so how do you take that awesomeness and make it your own? What happens, how does that go?

DK: You channel the awesomeness, Bill.

RA: Should we play them a segment of "Chariots of Fire?"

EI: Yeah, sure, let's play a little bit of "Chariots of Fire."

RA: We'll play a bit of "Chariots of Fire."

That's some channeled awesomeness. You know, I asked you about controversy, and you guys went to the "we're not morons," but I actually meant both sides of the controversy. That you know, there's the criticism, but then there's the genuflecting. You know, you are the "saviors of jazz."

RA: That's absolutely ludicrous. Jazz doesn't need saving. We're just a part of the river that's got all this stuff. Jazz has been moving around in different directions forever. You know, you can't stop it. So we're just a part of that tradition. We're a part of rethinking improvising in America, you know, there it is.


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