The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus are the ultimate originals. A democratic unit with a clear vision and a refusal to conform to convention. For the past two decades they have played with spirit and adventure, made their own rules and done so with a bold sense of creativity and intent. Avoiding easy categorization, The Bad Plus has won critical acclaim and a legion of fans worldwide with their unique sound and flair for live performance.

Now in their 21st year, The Bad Plus continues to push boundaries as founding members Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums) embark on a new piano-less incarnation of the band with Ben Monder (guitar) and Chris Speed (tenor saxophone) – instigating a new wave of excitement and anticipation within the band that is re-energizing their sound and inspiration. The Bad Plus have constantly searched to bridge genres and techniques while exploring the infinite possibilities of exceptional musicians working in perfect sync.

The Bad Plus is set to release their 15th studio recording and debut self-titled album as a dynamic new quartet via Edition Records on Friday, September 30th. “Evolution is necessary for life and creativity,” say Dave King and Reid Anderson. “We’ve evolved, but we’re still The Bad Plus.”

The Bad Plus, The Bad Plus

One of the defining bands in 21st century jazz makes its vital debut in a new iteration, featuring Ben Monder and Chris Speed

Twenty-one years after making their landmark debut as a genre exploding piano-bass-drums trio, the always adventurous group have reinvented themselves as a dynamic quartet.

“If after more than 20 years you can put out a record that has the energy of a debut album, to me, that’s saying something. It’s what reinventing yourself is all about.” Reid Anderson

“We believe we’re making the same statement we did with the piano twenty-one years ago, just with a completely different instrumentation.” Dave King



“Evolution is necessary for life and creativity. We’ve evolved, but we’re still The Bad Plus.” say Dave King and Reid Anderson, founding drummer and bassist respectively of the groundbreaking band known then and now as The Bad Plus.

This new iteration of The Bad Plus makes its vital eponymous debut The Bad Plus (Edition Records) now, as always, challenging convention by pushing their inimitable approach to jazz in boundary-breaking new directions. Though the components may have changed, what remains is The Bad Plus’s unique musical language and their undeniable drive and intent. Reid Anderson says; “If after more than 20 years you can put out a record that has the energy of a debut album, to me, that’s saying something. It’s what reinventing yourself is all about.”

“We believe we’re making the same statement we did with the piano twenty-one years ago,” says Dave King, “just with a completely different instrumentation.” Reid Anderson continues, “To me the music on this record feels as fresh as anything we’ve ever done.”

Of course, The Bad Plus have been at this crossroads before, changing their original lineup in 2017 with pianist Orrin Evans taking the seat previously occupied by founding member Ethan Iverson. Two acclaimed albums – including 2019’s inspired Edition Records debut, Activate Infinity – followed, but in 2021 the decision was made to reinvent the ensemble once again.

“We purposely walked away from getting another pianist,” King says. “Instead, we went this other way. We found a new sound and a more expansive range.”

This is a defining album for The Bad Plus in many ways; in their 21 year journey, in sound and in change of personnel. But the consistent core thread remains. Reid continues, “Dave and I grew up playing in bands and loving bands. We wanted to form a band and make whatever sacrifices were necessary to be in that band. We’re here to make the best music we can collectively and not in service of anyone’s personal ego. But to talk about what The Bad Plus is, it’s the writing and the song, and the perspective of what a song can be as a personal statement. That’s what we’re fighting for; a personal identity and respect for the imagination and the Song.”

Rather than simply seeking out a new pianist, Anderson and King took a hard left turn and enlisted a pair of remarkably gifted musicians in Ben Monder – a visionary guitarist known for his work both as leader and as sideman with David Bowie (Black Star), Theo Bleckmann, Guillermo Klein, and Paul Motian, to name but a few – and saxophonist Chris Speed, an award-winning leader/co-leader of myriad modern ensembles and longtime musical running buddy of both King and Anderson.

“These are not some young kids we found from a music school,” says King.

Notwithstanding the new members’ extraordinary pedigrees, the process of developing this new ‘Bad Plus took hard work and perseverance. A series of intense rehearsals began in the summer of 2021. The quartet pored over new and old compositions by Reid and Dave and emerged with a singular group sound.

The results are a thrillingly energetic approach that retains all of the band’s vaunted adventurousness while simultaneously setting them on a new pathway of genre-agonistic musical exploration. Working with engineer Brett Bullion, the band have fully maximised the sonic and dynamic possibilities of the new lineup, showcasing the virtuosity and musicality of Speed and Monder while maintaining their trademark pursuit of relentless invention and excellence. From breakneck avant-garde explosivity (“Sun Wall”) to majestic psychedelia (“In The Bright Future”) to dreamy meditation (“The Dandy”), the new LP blazes with the very same punk attitude that has defined The Bad Plus for over two decades.

Invention and evolution have always been key to The Bad Plus’s creative ethos. A jazz group that has never been a jazz band, they have propelled the genre towards a new plane that might not have been discovered without them. Having recontextualized their own chemistry, The Bad Plus not only affirms the band’s continuing relevance and longevity, it burns bright on its own terms as an extraordinarily powerful debut from an all-new creative force to be reckoned with.

“We feel like we’ve pulled off a magic trick,” Dave King says, “changing the lineup from a trio to a quartet with guitar and saxophone that still sounds coherent as The Bad Plus. Having two main composers was our greatest card to play. Our language remains, and that’s the magic.”

Episode #347

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