Friday, January 15, 2010

The Best Jazz You Never Heard: Reid Anderson

If you are looking for evidence that genius still inhabits contemporary jazz, Ethan Iverson's work is a good place to start.  I blogged on Iverson back in June (sorry, but the links have been removed).  Iverson has been most visible as a member of The Bad Plus, a very eclectic and unspeakably daring group including Reid Anderson on bass and Dave King on drums.  To get an idea of how daring they are, they walked away from a contract with a major label (Columbia) because they didn't like the anti-piracy shenanigans that Columbia was up to.

The Bad Plus recently appeared at the Village Vanguard, and you can download a recording of their concert from the NPR Village Vanguard site.  I haven't listened to it yet, or to their most recent recording For All I Care, which includes Wendy Lewis' sinuous vocals.  The group's most conspicuous feature is their treatment of pop and rock songs.  The new album has a version of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb'!  And here is clip of the group performing Black Sabbath's 'Iron Man'.

Okay, but what I really wanted to post about tonight are three albums I have listened to, with bassist Reid Anderson as leader. 
Dirty Show Tunes (1998) with Iverson on piano, Mark Turner on Sax, and Jorge Rossy on drums. 
Abolish Bad Architecture (1999) Jeff Ballard replaces Rossy on drums.  
The Vastness of Space (2000), with Ben Monder on guitar, Andrew D'Angelo on alto, Bill McHenry on Tenor, and Marlon Browden on drums. 
All three are superb recordings.  You can't help but love the title of the second one, and the titles of many of the compositions are equally entertaining.  The jazz is at once very accessible and refreshingly unfamiliar in texture.  Turner's tenor dominates the first two, and I think his playing here is more compelling and brilliant than anything I have heard elsewhere.  Iverson knows exactly where all the acupuncture points beneath the skin of the melodies, and he plays with a penetrating and rejuvenating touch.  The Vastness of Space is maybe a little more edgy, but only a little. 

I really dig these albums.  As far as I know, Anderson hasn't recorded again as leader, so when you download them for eMusic, you have a complete set.  Here is a sample from each album:
Not Sentimental/Dirty Show Tunes

Todas las cosas se van/Abolish Bad Architecture

Foxy/The Vastness of Space
 Please, if you like this music, buy the recordings.  And while you are at it, drop me a line. 


  1. Thanks for this, I'm a big fan of The Bad Plus but I didn't know Reid Anderson had done any work as a band leader. Some more entries on my must buy list.

    And Dave King is releasing what is, as far as I can see, his first work as a band leader next month.

  2. This is all pretty new to me, except for Iverson. But the Anderson stuff is very good. I will have to be on the lookout for Dave King's recording.

  3. There's a track from Dave King's forthcoming album streaming on next bop. You can listen to it here: