Sunday, May 08, 2005

Jason Moran & the Bandwagon / The Bad Plus – Princeton, NJ 5/7/05

This is one concert I had been looking forward to attending for a while and it didn't disappoint. Moran's group opened up first, playing music from their latest album Same Mother and he was accompanied by the same band that made that record – Tarus Mateen on (fretless electric) bass, Nasheet Waits on drums and Marvin Sewell on guitar. The tunes I liked the best were actually Sewell's, which gave him a chance to stretch out and play slide guitar, a sound which I absolutely adore. The rest of the band was good as well – I think some people would have preferred an upright bass but they chose to go with the electric. Waits played a very “bash and smash” drum solo on one of the uptempo tunes that really didn't fit in, but the rest of the time he played quite well.

As interesting as the Moran group was, The Bad Plus really stole the show and from the response, you could tell that's who the crowd had come to see. For a band known for their oddball covers, it was interesting to he them play a number of original tunes, several from Reid Anderson who seems to be developing into the groups main composer, and David King's wonderfully titled “The Empire Strikes Backwards.” King in fact was the hero of the night playing the drums with epic force, striking surfaces with sticks, brushes, children's toys and (it looked like) his head. Ethen Iverson kept things moving from the piano bench and made announcements in his own droll way. Oh yes, the covers... A truly bizarre prepared piano/scraped percussion into morphed into “We Are the Champions” and then they encored with the “Chariots of Fire” theme before being sent of into the night with a standing ovation.

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