The Bad Plus make jazz scary awesome. Not just by treating songs like Aphex Twin’s Film as standards, and not just by having interesting facial hair, but also by bringing along the best bits of 80s and early 90s young turk bebop–the cool, stripped down cymbals, the gritty but thoughtful funk breaks, and the rough punk-rock angularity in the solos that go from swing to Bauhaus in .03 seconds. Their closest progenitor is the Jesus Lizard jazz side project the Denison/Kimball trio, except with piano instead of guitar leading the charge into nightmare territory.
Of course Matthew Hemerlein, classically-trained musician and host of the Family Hemerlein show (at the Warehouse Theater tonight sponsored by us please get tickets now and come out to the jam) knows that asking these very serious and cool musicians about why they keep imitating Medeski Martin and Wood possibly isn’t the best idea. Yet he goes ahead and does it anyway. Because he is hilarious.
Matt spoke to the band after their show at Wolf Trap a few weeks ago, and for some reason they didn’t kill him when he asked them what kind of triangle they would be. They also talked about playing drunk, crying while writing music, and what all young bands need to know (aside from try as hard as you can to be as talented as the Bad Plus, even if you know you’re going to fail.)