Saturday, May 19, 2007

Music: The Bad Plus

Wednesday was our wedding anniversary. Rosemarie and I marked the occasion with a pizza and pushed the festivities to Friday night. Drinks at our usual hangout. Dinner at a fine restaurant. Some live music. And what live music. The Bad Plus was in town.

They’re a jazz trio – Ethan Iverson on piano, Reid Anderson on bass, David King on drums – that mixes terrific original compositions with singular covers. Their latest album Prog includes distinctive takes on “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” “This Guy’s In Love With You,” and “Life on Mars” by David Bowie*. We lucked out and got to hear their version of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” live, along with a haunting rendition of “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young.

It was a tremendous set. David King uses a variety of children’s toys to achieve the desired sound, and it’s dazzling to see (and hear) him work his magic in person.

After the show, the boys hung around to sign CDs. I spoke briefly with Ethan Iverson, a big crime fiction buff, about our mutual admiration for Donald E. Westlake – and complimented his version of the opening scene of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code as written by Westlake’s alter ego Richard Stark. I told him it was one of my favorite things on the Internet. I wasn’t lying.

All that, and the Mets beat the Yankees. What a day.

The Bad Plus is in Seattle through Sunday, followed by dates across the U.S. and Europe. Catch them if you can.

* Bowie’s song has been everywhere lately. I was getting a haircut when I heard Seu Jorge’s Portuguese cover from The Life Aquatic soundtrack. Looking it up on Rhapsody led me to discover that Barbra Streisand recorded the song in 1974. Nobody says “crashing bore” like Babs.

Upcoming: No Country For Old Men

For me, the rest of the moviegoing year will be a countdown to the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s neo-noir thriller, which has electrified the Cannes Film Festival. Variety’s Todd McCarthy raves. GreenCine has a round-up of other reactions.