This year, The Bad Plus took on a huge to task to reinterpret Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”. To imagine the immensely colorful and heavy orchestration of “The Rite” boiled down to a jazz piano trio aesthetic can be uneasing at first. There are so many intricacies to the work as a whole; even the orchestral version of the piece is quite daunting and widely considered one of the most challenging pieces written in the 20th century. If there was any piano trio that would be capable of performing the Rite of Spring live, however, it would be The Bad Plus. The group is renown for its daring and raucous, punk like attitude towards jazz and rhythm. There is a high level of reverence in their rendition of the Rite of Spring and it is clear that the group takes the act of interpreting this piece very seriously. When the trio was first asked if they would agree to this concert as the artists in residence at Duke University, the first response from the group was, WHY? This is the most sacred orchestral work of the 20th century, why would the Bad Plus dare approach this massively challenging score?
When the group first started tackling this assignment it started to become clear that not only could they perform the entire piece as an arrangement from the score but they could maintain its dynamic nature while infusing it with their own characteristic style of playing. You can checkout the live recording of the world premier here.
The first player starts with an interview the band and Josh Jackson of WBGO, the second player is the entirety of the performance.
Let me know what the best show you saw was in 2011!