The second half was vintage Bad Plus- tremendously tight, with forms taking hairpin turns through tremendously virtuosic meter change. Some tongue in cheek playing- Ethan pounding away in the "Never Stop" transitions, free jazz power balladry on "Radio Tower", and a downright loopy illustration of "Beryl". The first head of "People Like You" was quiet to the point of shy, then the tune built to a point of bombast, before bassist Reid Anderson reeled it in with a few beautiful lines. I've reviewed TBP a few times in the past, and in this music I have little to add.
But the first half was different from anything I've heard them do. From early in "2pm", the comfort with both the music and each other led to some really transcendent music making, from the way pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer Dave King hooked up on and built an idea together, the kind of hookup Herbie and Tony Williams or McCoy and Elvin knock you out with. Reid followed with a solo that reminded you of Charlie Haden, again, in passion and tone rather than content. The band has frequently talked about its passion for Keith Jarrett's American Quartet, and it was on display here. That kind of brilliance- in my notes I wrote "kinetic transcendence"- was obvious throughout. There was an elasticity to the breaks and transitions in "Anthem", as if they could have stopped on a dime.
For encores, the band played their cover of "Flim", then an abuse of "Have You Met Miss Jones" that changed speed every six bars or so. Here perhaps was the kicker- if you got past the goofyness of the conceit, when the band settled on a tempo it really swung. Despite my enthusiasm for the band, I wasn't sure they had it in them (Sorry guys) to the point that I'd happily stay for a set of "Perdido" and "Nardis". Not that that'll happen anytime soon, right guys? Guys???