Gig review – The Bad Plus, London Jazz Festival

Friday, 11 November saw London Jazz Festival kick-off for another year.  The 10-day festival sees the world’s greatest jazz musicians descend on the capital.

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My first gig of the festival was The Bad Plus at Scala (on Sunday 13th). The New York-based piano trio is well known for its eclectic cover versions including Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Aphex Twin’s Flim and even Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.  TBP has steered away from covers in recent years but their latest album, It’s Hard, features nothing but covers.  Barry Manilow’s Mandy, Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time, Crowded House’s Don’t Dream it’s Over, and Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line all received TBP treatment, twisting these songs to their upper limit whilst not losing the essence of the tune.  A tricky balancing act which TBP accomplish with ease.  TBP also played their own tunes including crowd favourite Big Eater.  The encore featured a personal favourite Seven Minute Mind, which occupies a space somewhere between the jazz and classical realms.  TBP are a class act and always worth seeing if you get the chance.

Special mention goes to the support act, Binker & Moses.  The duo of tenor saxophone (Binker Golding) and drums (Moses Boyd) is a rare sight.  Nevertheless, they’ve been picking up awards left, right and centre and it wasn’t hard to see why.  They moved from calypso to straight-ahead jazz in a diverse and energetic set.  I was glad I got the opportunity to see them.

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Watch this space for more…