Review – The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis at the Jazz Winnipeg Festival, WECC, July 2 2009

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The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis at the West End Cultural Centre as part of the 2009 Jazz Winnipeg Festival. Duncan McNairnay photo

-photos by Duncan McNairnay

Ethan is a friend
who loves music
loves Propagandhi
tours the world
with them. after
The Bad Plus with
Wendy Lewis
show, he posted
this on Facebook,

“will take on all haters
after reading this:
The Bad Plus were
far better than Al Green.”

fighting words
because (to share),
i have this other friend
a beautiful musician
who wrote on her face/
book that she needed
to take Four birth control
pills so as not be impregnated
by Al Green’s voice,

this is
freedom of choice

I Loved The Bad Plus
with Wendy Lewis and Al Green
with the Real Musicians
he brought
from Memphis, Tennessee,

maybe not equally
no, I Loved The (Rad!)
Bad Plus and Wendy Lewis
more and more and more

badplus2

as time passes
i’m unforgetting the fire
U2 lit by
blazed by
raised by
fueled by
gasoleeeeeened by
inflamed by
The Bad Plus
Wendy Lewis

there was this insane dude
howling and yowling and owling
hooting and hollering after
every piece
(okay, that was me)

and that just began the revolutionary
inflammatory
love calls
after every tune and dis/tuned piece
of cacophony and ode to insanity
and re/constructed melody

there were so many songs
about insanity
mental illness
aloneness
disharmony
and the melody
of life in altered states
of perception
away from the mainstream

this is streaming this is dreaming
i
‘m state
not looking at journal
notes
as the chaotic notes they played
and rayed and re/sounded
mesmerized
and terrorized
my dream state
slack jaw
wide eyes
beats hearts souls
minds we’re cruising
in a sleek
dream convertible
at 150 miles per hour
wind in splitting atomic hairs,
ears open
rushing cascading distant
familiar
harmony

i’m feeling it
channeling
it
the bad plus
wendy lewis
streaming their subconscious
ness
into the streaming rivers of oceanic flow

salt water
smooth
sailing
waves of piano

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The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis at the West End Cultural Centre as part of the 2009 Jazz Winnipeg Festival. Duncan McNairnay photo

Ethan Iverson on wavelength
piano

Reid Anderson
gorgeous bass
and voice
that shocked me
Beautifully

and drums
percussion
subsonic discussion
intimate conversation
David King

pounding drums
on distant resistant shores
and tapping
every pore
and metallic hard,core
snapping the bass strings
and sliding the fingers
and bending all the shapes
from the clay
strings into new forms
this is Rodin
this is a way to see
(Berger)
the art forming and foaming and frothing
before
your hungry
eyes
art is here now
feel it
in this instant
this is enlightenment
not a fakery
of thieves

later, when everyone was yelping
and openly making with their
gut,ter,al emotions
to the unleashed beauty,
there was another man whose
insanity
was allowed to break open
and freely speak
in audible,disrupting volumes
breaking the dream
the art
and there,
in this man’s exposed insanity,

the crowd
the mob
the throbbing
mass
pulsing angrily

how dare you be insane
when these are re,
constructs, songs
pretends and play,actings
about mental illness

take yours to the institution
to your backyard
to the great outdoors
to the street corner

there was U2’s New Years Day
and what is more insane
than Heart’s Barracuda

okay, not so much as insane
as brilliantly
slowed and played tempo up to
the streamed drum
smashing
crashing
cymbals
and symbols
of piano
plinking
Metal
was heavy metal
like Iggy Pop on a new
narcotic
that slows him down
just enough
to feel him bite into
and crawl
under your skin

his entire sculpted body

why do i think of Iggy?

why do i breathe?

Barracuda
the tease and play
Wendy,
“barra…”

and the pause
the tease,
endlessly we’re waiting
for
the “Koooooooodaaaaaaaaaah”

as she releases us
from the prison of waiting

the orgasm of freedom
of choice

she knows how to sing and breathe
these songs
she’s an alt rocker

she looks like a funky aunt
the one who plays bongos
and spoons and harmonica
acoustic guitar
Joni songs
paints,drizzles abstract art
does pottery
on a lark
takes
African dance too

she doesn’t wear the jazz singer
femme fatale
gown

she is no formalistic clown

she is anti-form
she is pro-storm
the quiet before
the bellow during
the exquisite freedom
after
picking up the carnage
and making sculpture
she’s a creator
vocal innovator

now, we’re onto The Bad Plus

innovators
de/constructors
re/inventors
brilliant nude visions
new ideas for
old songs

my initial outburst is spent,

now to
consult the notes
this is what all poets
do
read
L Cohen’s journal
entries
from Death Of A Ladies Man
after each poem.

Stravinsky opens
Apollo, then
Who’s He by pianist Iverson

Lithium, Kurt Cobain. Nirvana.
Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd.
Barracuda, Heart.
Song X. Ornette Coleman.
Reid’s Dirty Blonde
Radio Cure. Wilco.
Blue Velvet. Wayne and Morris.

I haven’t seen The Bad Plus in over
two years
and i had forgotten
that David King
is the finest drummer
percussionist
i have ever seen
there must be finer?
i just haven’t seen
them
felt them
experienced them
been mesmerized by one
so beautiful
of drumming
spirit and rhythm
as David King.

he’ll touch and caress any part of any
drum set
cymbal tap tap
and use every part and screw and nut
of attachments
to sound
the perfect part
of every song
he’ll brush and paint
the skins
and shiny metal(licks)
he’ll push
he’ll pound
he’ll use every part of a drumstick too
he’ll make metal squeal
if that’s the perfect sound
for that moment
of a now
he’ll pow you
and wow you with technique
it’s a show
he’ll pop with fingers and hummer
with hands
hammer sticks

as he and Reid
play in harmony
in perfect communication
in languages
in tongues speaking
rapidly lovingly
and when they’re apart
shouting
in disquiet
and unraveling
songs
into corrosive chaos
it’s all so easy
to flow
into the unity
from the anarchy
once again

Ethan’s Who’s He
ecstatic piano
frolicking
strolling
rollicking
spine/jamming bass
i feel like
i’m back in African dance class
feeling it
wanting it
the movement
freely
hands
and fingers
and personality
exploding and unashamed
bent low
and twisting turning
releasing
and released,
David King
there is so much personality
here
Immense
no pretense
totally Africa
of spirit.

Song X
super/fast
and stop
Freeze
exquisite timing
silent beats
as they release
dissss
cord
ant
conversation
with the audience
down,beat
tempo
stopping releasing
pent up energy
piano speeds away
all cacophony
noise,turmoil symphony
Reid bends,squeezes,reshapes the notes
in his solo
note sculptor
david pushes the cymbals
this is “silent” percussion
and then
suddenly
breakneck speeding
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
the collective
in tune
in blurring movement.

Semi-Simple Variations. Milton Babbitt,
short,sharp,feet
hard,core,meat
plinking,pinking,street
dancing,crazy,beat

Wendy walks on stage.
they begin,
bass line so familiar,
Lithiummmmmmmmmmmm.
all tingles
this is another way Lithium
needs to sound,

when i first saw Nirvana
there was the anguish and joy
the Gypsy in them
Kobain’s curved spine stance
pain/filled
honest naked
screaming vocals about
his soul’s utterly mad pain
and beside him filling the stage
Novo The Giant bassist dance,pop,pogo,ing
to Dave’s joyful beats and rhythms,

Wendy Lewis and The Bad Plus
talk
the language
of mental illness,
“i’m not gonna cry.”
back then,
when
i saw Nirvana,
i cried.

Wilco’s song.
another tortured rendition
of mental and
spiritual misery
and here
the most beautiful
poignant
vocal delivery imaginable
perfectly devastating
Radio Cure
my shivering soul
goose bumps
i’m ready to break apart
into a million pieces
this belongs in a David Lynch film
(did i intuitively know
Blue Velvet was coming?)
and this is when the man’s
voice rose
to shatter
the (dis)illusion of concert
and bring us into
the reality
of personal misery,
Wendy’s sitting on stage
her back to us
watching the musicians
shining their brilliance
onto us
funky bass
sure,shot drum,taps
and only the piano in state
of madness
until the drums and bass
joins
the insanity
and noise/noise/noise
Noise!
“out of control
honey
life out of control”

Blue Velvet
stunning

before i recognize U2’s
New Years Day
i hear the straight ahead
rock n roll drumming
quickly taken away
going to Africa
beating it down
standing as he pops
the beats
and then
the band joins
New Years Day

Wendy shares a loving smile
with John Hak
in the midst of the vocals
and slides back into
the pocket
of the song,

we’re one
audience and collective
known as The Bad Plus

always
challenging
what is this song?
never dull these
where is this traveling now?
genius
interpretations
are
fragmented
insanities
and madnesses
and joys

“this is the golden age
gold is the reason
for the wars
we wage
(oil)
i want to be with you
night and day
nothing changes
on new years day”

Comfortably Numb.
rolling waves on the piano
bass,drums,jazzy
piano is the madness
sadness (Bad)ness
Plus
Wendy Lewis and her
perfectly tortured vocals
distant ships
waves
piano notes
wavelengths
speaking in tongues
translucent
balloons
children
inexplicable
games
the dramatic pause
after,
“just a little pin,prick”
darkness of
the inner child
lost in never,ending
maze
this is horror
perfect black horror
“your lips move
but i cannot hear
what you
re
saying”
steadily the madness
streams into our
frightened souls
end it now end it now
crescendo
“i have become comfortably numb”
and slowly releasing us,

into Barracuda
bass line
big time driving and crying song
piano
so hot
Wendy’s belting/melting it out
burning the house down
discordant
“silly, silly boy”
chaotic,enticing
siren’s wail,
“oooooooooooooo
barracuda!”

Standing O(vation)
i am the first standing
obviously
proudly so

and for the engaging
encore,
slow.it.down.
what is this? now that
\we/’re hoping for,
a pop hit
to bring us on home,
Home,
Winnipeg,
that is the clue
to unravel this musical
travel
mystery,

david’s rubbing bells
chiming tibetan bells
oh lamenting piano,
ethan’s gold(en) piano,

reid’s lips part
and these are the birds,
released,

“I wanna live
I wanna give
I’ve been a miner
for a heart of gold”

!

we’re home, we’re in Winnipeg
and we’ve poured
love and received love
in return
in perfect harmony
as we give and they receive
they give and we receive
givers and receivers
in harmony
more and more
each time
each song
each
de-composition,

we’re gifted,

Neil Young
and there is Wendy
and Ethan and David and Reid
singing
and bringing the tears
to us now
audience

if only
when they stopped the instruments

ack
ah
pell
ah

and sang to us
honoring us

if only we were at The Times Changed
for a folk music crowd now
a usual WECC audience
the singing
would enfold us
and the tears flowing
through us
but this is a jazz
audience
this isn’t sing along,

thank you
for your (truly)
hearts of gold
hearts of riches
The Bad Plus
and Wendy Lewis

in a perfect
85 minutes.

i wanted to make this perfect
because last night was
perfect
but this is about time
constraints
and making it
here and now
this isn’t perfect
i haven’t practiced
this
haven’t rewritten this
over and over and over
again
and made
this
Van Gogh
this isn’t Pablo
this is simply
the children’s beloved
Mr O
lost in my perfectly drawn
and pain(ted)
shaped carved sculpted
imperfections

The Bad Plus
Wendi Lewis
Jazz Winnipeg Festival

i’ll not fight
you, ethan
osland

ps. when i thanked David King and shook his offered hand,
this is what i felt,
a warm, soft hand
surprisingly
the same hand
i felt nearly thirty years
ago,
Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s
so soft and so warm.
these are true hearts.
true souls.
true
hands.

About Eugene Osudar

“born, august 16, 1963. i’m 45, and yes, i’m getting too old for this. bring out the rocking chair. my first concert, november 1978, elvis costello and the attractions. i was 15. their blisteringly brilliant 65 minute set only served somebody to affirm my new direction in the musical parallel universes, new wave punk alternative, oh sanctity oh celebration (!Freedom!) college radio! i’m old, i’m used up and i’m free. i see 50something Full sets of music every month and dance most of them. and when i dance, i mean to say, I Dance and Celebrate, 2/3/4 hours a night. The Gaslight Anthem. The Boss. The Weber Brothers. The Wind Ups. i’ll dance with Los Campesinos. i’ll move to The Long Winters. The Replacements. Husker Du. The Pogues. oh elvis costello, oh Clash! i could go/go/go Gogol Bordello forever. L(eonard) Cohen. come, Dance With Me (Old 97s) wherever you may be, sincerely, eugene
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