The Bad Plus: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson in triplicate

Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson in triplicate
  • Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson in triplicate

The Jazz Festival's opening-night act, Minneapolis trio The Bad Plus, became known for their jazz versions of contemporary pop and rock artists like Nirvana, Blondie and Aphex Twin. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring became known for inciting a riot at its 1913 premiere. Maybe they’re not the most obvious match, but the Bad Plus decided to tackle Stravinsky’s ballet at this year’s festival (they also played at the 2009 edition). The Rite of Spring divided audiences because 1913 ears weren’t used to the harsh dissonances and rhythms of the music (Stravinsky used polyrhythms, multiple rhythms frequently associated with African drumming), which also drew heavily from Slavic folk music. Here they played it to riotous applause.
The intro was played on solo piano with the stage lights off, sounding otherworldly; as the lights switched on, the bass and drums entered. What made the cover of the 20th-century classic jazz? Reid Anderson’s bass seemed to make some of the harsher moments of the original even rougher, while Dave King’s drums and Ethan Iverson’s smooth-jazz glissandos on the piano jazzed up the piece. The Bad Plus’ jazz rendition sometimes felt lighter than Stravinsky’s, sometimes every bit as loud, rhythmic and dissonant, leading up to a rambunctious, fast-paced finish.
The band ended off with a few songs of original material, and these too seemed to echo some of Stravinsky’s distorted Slavic folk music, or perhaps it’s that, as some critics have said, all music written after The Rite of Spring derives from it.


About The Author

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

The Coast Daily email newsletter is your extra dose of the city Monday through Friday. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.

Recent Comments