Interview: Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus

Minneapolis-based, The Bad Plus are carrying on the proud jazz tradition of groups like Bill Evans Trio, Oscar Peterson, and Art Tatum. Unfortunately, playing one of the least popular genres of music right now, The Bad Plus rarely get the credit they deserve. I recently got the opportunity to talk to pianist Ethan Iverson about the Bad Plus’ seventh studio album, Never Stop.

Your new record is called Never Stop. How do you think it compares to your previous albums?
Hopefully it shows our maturity ten years in.

It is your first all-originals album. Why no covers?
We regard composition as the life force of the band. A populist conception of us as “the band who plays Nirvana covers” might help us fill seats but is fundamentally incorrect — we’ve always had about 75-90% original music in the book. Also, our last record was all covers, so it was time for a change. Our next project, incidentally is a “cover” – the complete Rite of Spring by Stravinsky! We premiere that at Duke University in March.

Your last album For All I Care, was the first to contain vocals. Although none are included on Never Stop, is that something you might experiment with in the future?
Never say never, but there are not new projects planned for the future.

What is the writing process like for The Bad Plus? Are most songs thoroughly pre-rehearsed or is it mostly improv?
Depends on the song. On this album, something like “Never Stop” doesn’t have much improv but “2 PM” does.

What were the recording sessions for Never Stop like?
A relaxed hang out at Pachyderm in the middle of nowhere, Cannon Falls. Very cool scene.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Hard to say!

What is next for The Bad Plus?
This fall and spring we are busy touring the record in the states and Europe. Over Christmas and New Year’s we look forward to our annual residencies at the Dakota and the Village Vanguard. Then the Stravinsky…