The Bad Plus
This is the 97th of 100 programs in the Jazz at 100 series. We move now into the 21st century, presenting music from less than twenty years ago. Which of these performances will have lasting value? What players will be remembered for their contributions to advancing the music? What trends will turn into dominant themes? The more recent the music, the more difficult it is to tell with any certainty.
As mentioned in the last two hours of the program, to present this recent music, we are following the lead of critic Gary Giddins who wrote an essay in 2001 where he told the story of post-war jazz through a discussion of one musical selection from each year.
In these final few programs, we are exploring recent jazz through a presentation of (generally) one musical selection from each year in the 1990s and 2000s. Jazz at the turn of the century, in this hour of Jazz at 100.
But first, we completed the 1990s without presenting one of the more significant events of that time, the return to recording of Andrew Hill.
1999. Andrew Hill, “T.C.”
“Dusk was warmly, even rapturously received on its release, less for its content than because a major African-American composer seemed at last able to come out of the shadows. It’s a record that requires time to assimilate and it’s worth bearing in mind that here was an artist who had recorded very little, relative to his stature and to the density of Blue Note documentation, for two decades … [I]n later life, Hill adopted a curiously detached stance, as if to indicate that he was equally unimpressed by the canonization of past work and the overdue recognition that greeted his ‘comeback’. … There is … a heartfelt tribute to the late Thomas Chapin, ‘T.C.’, which features Ehrlich and Tardy on what sound like bass clarinets, though none are listed on the sleeve. – Brian Morton & Richard Cook
T.C. Andrew Hill Sextet
(Ron Horton-tp, Greg Tandy-ts/cl/fl, Marty Ehrlich-as, Andrew Hill-p, Scott Colley-b, Billy Drummond-d). From Dusk. 9/15/1999
2000. Ted Nash, “Premiere Rhapsodie.”
A New York City session player and big band sax section stalwart, Ted Nash led one of the best pick-up sessions in 2000, resulting in his breakthrough album Sidewalk Meeting. “Debussy’s clarinet exercise is augmented by Nash’s resourceful voicing and an instrumentation that cannot help evoking tangents. Wycliffe Gordon’s plunger trombone calls to mind Tyree Glenn’s fruitful stay with Ellington and proves that bygone techniques can be revitalized without pomo condescension, while Nash’s clarinet implies a rapprochement between France and Weimar and his tenor pushes at the parameters of free jazz—to say nothing of evocations summoned by accordion, violin, and drums.” – Gary Giddins
Premiere Rhapsodie. Ted Nash Quintet
(Wycliffe Gordon-tu/tb, Ted Nash-ts/cl/bcl, William Schimmel-acc, Miri Ben-Ari-vln, Matt Wilson-d). From Sidewalk Meeting. 10/23 – 10/24/2000
2001. Dave Holland. “Make Believe.”
By 2001, bassist Dave Holland, who had recorded with everyone from Miles Davis to Michael Brecker, was in the middle of a remarkable run of records with a standing quintet of Robin Eubanks on trombone, Chris Potter on reeds, Steve Nelson on vibes and Billy Kilson on drums. Extended Play, recorded live at Birdland in 2001, was the Downbeat Jazz Album of the Year in 2004, following the same honor awarded to the quintet’s 2002 release Not For Nothing. “The consistently sterling level Holland’s quintet sustains is not the result of the clever cherry picking of a four-night stand. It is simply a benefit of longevity that eludes most jazz units.” – Bill Shoemaker, JazzTimes
Make Believe. Dave Holland Quintet
(Robin Eubanks-tb, Chris Potter-ss/as/ts, Steve Nelson-vib/marimba, Dave Holland-b, Billy Kilson-d). From Extended Play – Live At Birdland. 11/21 – 11/24/2001
2002. The Bad Plus. “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
In 2002, The Bad Plus arrived as a new kind of piano trio. Ted Gioia wrote “The Bad Plus, a collective trio established by pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King in 2000, tweaked its combined noses at jazz snobs and found a sizable audience of jazz newbies with cover versions of songs by Nirvana, Black Sabbath, the Bee Gees, and similarly outré material.” Jazz interpretations of pop tunes is a time-honored tradition that this trio updates with efforts like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Smells Like Teen Spirit. The Bad Plus
(Ethan Iverson-p, Reid Anderson-b, David King-d). From These Are The Vistas. 9/30 – 10/05/2002
2003. Dave Douglas. “Just Say This.”
After gigging with everyone for a decade and recording innumerable records for a myriad of small labels, trumpeter Dave Douglas signed with RCA Bluebird in 2000 and recorded a set of classic releases that brought his formidable talents to a much wider audience. Of the CD Strange Liberation, Thomas Conrad (JazzTimes) writes, “From the opening track, the sound freezes you right in your chair … It is collectively, dramatically assertive …[Douglas’s] focus is always the evolving ensemble, clarified through the lenses of his own provocative compositions … [‘Just Say This’] is one of the most affecting of the many jazz elegies written for the events of 9/11. Douglas’ muted trumpet lines hang in the air like grief and awe for which no words are possible, while [Bill] Frisell’s guitar cuts black, isolated chords.”
Just Say This. Dave Douglas Sextet
(Dave Douglas-tp, Chris Potter-ts/bcl, Uri Caine-p, Bill Frisell-g, James Genus-b, Clarence Penn-d). From Strange Liberation. 1/2003
Rules are made to be broken. We just heard from Dave Douglas’s 2003 recording Strange Liberation and the premise of this series of programs is one selection per year, but 2003 also featured two great releases by veteran tenor players, Wayne Shorter and Von Freeman.
2003. Wayne Shorter. “Bachianas Brasileras No. 5.”
In 2001, Wayne Shorter recorded Footprints Live! his first all-acoustic record since 1967 and in 2003 he brought his working quartet into the studio to record the much anticipated Alegria, identified by JazzTimes as the Record of the Year. Tom Conrad (JazzTimes)wrote, “The piece that will get the most attention is Shorter’s adaptation of ‘Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5’ by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Its marriage of classical and jazz idioms sounds unforced, even inevitable. Afro-Brazilian percussion sets up Shorter’s out-of-time, floating tenor sketches, which transition seamlessly to an instrument in the same tonal register, the cello of Charles Curtis, whose evocative sonorities linger on Villa-Lobos’ poignant theme.” Alegria won the 2004 Grammy for the Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. Wayne Shorter
(Wayne Shorter-ss, Danilo Perez-p, Charles Curtis-solo cel, David Garrett-cel, Barry Gold-cel, Gloria Lum-cel, Daniel Rothmuller-cel, Brent Samuel-cel, Cecilia Tsan-cel, John Pattitucci-b, Alex Acuna-per). From Alegria. 2003
Uri Caine’s performance of Mahler from the last hour, Ted Nash’s Debussy from earlier in this program and now Shorter’s Villa-Lobos all evidence the mature self-awareness of jazz within the universe of music.
2003. Von Freeman. “Chant Time (Featuring Jelly Roll).”
Choosing not to tour, but to stay home with his family (including his son – future tenor-great Chico Freeman) led Von Freeman to become a well-kept Chicago secret. “Freeman is representative of a rapidly depleting national resource, not only because he is a direct living connection to Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Lester Young, but also because he possesses two precious attributes: individuality and style. For most jazz players, notes are dots that are connected, often skillfully and creatively, to get from point A to point B. When perpetrated by Von Freeman, notes are meaningful, considered, consciously placed separate events, nuanced and inflected into expressive gestures of communication … Great Divide is one of Freeman’s strongest albums ever.” – Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes
Chant Time (Featuring Jelly Roll). Von Freeman Quartet
(Von Freeman-ts, Richard Wyands-p, John Webber-b, Jimmy Cobb-d). From The Great Divide. 5/2003
Jazz was alive and well as the new century opened.
We will continue with the highlights of jazz at the turn of the century in the next hour of Jazz at 100. Join us for recordings by the masters Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, and Charles Lloyd, plus major contributors Maria Schneider, Bill Frisell, Esperanza Spalding and Jason Moran. Jazz of the new millennium, in the next hour of Jazz at 100.
Andrew Hill. Dusk. Palmetto PM 2057
Ted Nash. Sidewalk Meeting. 2000-1023 – 1024 Ted Nash-01
Dave Holland Quintet. Extended Play – Live at Birdland. ECM 1758
The Bad Plus. These Are The Vistas. Columbia 25K 59157
Dave Douglas. Strange Liberation. Bluebird 82876 50818
Wayne Shorter. Alegria. Verve 314 543 558-2
Von Freeman. The Great Divide. Premonition 66917 90759
Conrad, Thomas. Dave Douglas: Strange Liberation. JazzTimes. April 1, 2004.
Conrad, Thomas. Wayne Shorter: Alegria. JazzTimes. May 1, 2003. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/wayne-shorter-alegria/
Conrad, Thomas. Von Freeman: The Great Divide. Jazz Times. November 1, 2004. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/von-freeman-the-great-divide/
Giddins, Gary. 2004. Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of Its Second Century. New York, NY. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 118. Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap (1945 – 2001)
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 9. Traditionalists and Postmodernists
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Andrew Hill. Dusk
Dave Holland Quintet. Extended Play – Live at Birdland
Wayne Shorter. Alegria
Shoemaker, Bill. Dave Holland Quintet: Extended Play. JazzTimes. November 1, 2003. https://jazztimes.com/reviews/albums/dave-holland-quintet-extended-play/
Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100