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Bassist from Bad Plus kicks amp in frustration

Jazz at Athenaeum can be loud

The Bad Plus. I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit.
The Bad Plus. I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit.

I’m officially a concert junkie. Since attending my first one (Led Zeppelin in August 1970 at the Sports Arena), I’ve witnessed more than 1000 shows. Once I started writing about music 13 years ago, this habit shot into overdrive. I stopped counting after documenting close to 600 San Diego shows. At this point, I’ve showed down quite a bit, partly due to a year’s worth of toxic health issues. But coming off surgery to implant a pacemaker, I’m officially bionic and ready to resume a dedicated quest devoted to taking in as many concerts as I can.

Place

Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

1008 Wall Street, San Diego

I have grown choosier about what I attend, however. I am looking for a transformational experience each time out. I’d prefer to leave any given event a different person from the one who arrived.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The long-running series Jazz at the Athenaeum has been a consistent source of transformational opportunities over the last 30 years. At first, one might not think the stucco and red tile roof building of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library likely to harbor such a musical hotbed, but inside, in the compact Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room, I’ve witnessed more fantastic events than in almost any other location.

On October 12, SDMA-award winning drummer/percussionist/bandleader Nathan Hubbard acted as my chauffeur and “plus-one” to catch the latest iteration of The Bad Plus. The group originally developed as a trio with pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King. That band recorded 14 albums and became popular for offering an avant garde sensibility alongside covers of tunes by Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and Igor Stravinsky. A few years back, Iverson quit the band and was replaced by pianist Orrin Evans, who recorded another two albums with them before departing to pursue his own music. At that point, The Bad Plus dropped the “piano trio,” descriptor and added two new members: guitarist Ben Monder and saxophone/clarinet specialist Chris Speed.

To be honest, the original Bad Plus didn’t do a whole lot for me. Strangely enough, I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit. I was excited, though, to catch the new, expanded line-up, especially in the room which seats 160 listeners. Ben Monder is one of my favorite post-Metheny guitarists and Chris Speed has blown me away when he’s come to San Diego with other bands.

Athenaeum Jazz program coordinator Dan Atkinson sat me in the first row. Just as the show began, Dave King (who was positioned just inches from the audience), wisecracked “Let me know if you can’t hear the drums!” King can get loud, and there were several folks in the first few rows whose ears might still be recovering.

Reid Anderson led things off with a solo bass soliloquy that reminded me of the iconic Charlie Haden. Monder was surrounded by close to a dozen footpedal guitar effects, and at times he seemed to use them all (mostly delays and reverbs); his sonics careened around the room. Speed was hard to hear, and I couldn’t tell if he was holding back, or if the room simply didn’t favor his aesthetic. At one point, Anderson and King became animated about a noise coming from the bass amp.

The noise returned halfway through the fourth tune (“You Won’t See Me Until I Come Back”), and Anderson kicked the amp so hard it moved several feet from its original spot. Everything stopped, and this time it was discovered that a cable had malfunctioned; upon replacement, the music continued with a vengeance. Perhaps to break the ice after his amp-abuse, Anderson quipped “How about that Dewey decimal system?” which made the crowd respond with nervous laughter.

The band was loud, and there were times when the two large mirrors hanging on the back wall seemed to sway in time with the music, but after the amplifier issue, no more drama ensued.

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The Bad Plus. I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit.
The Bad Plus. I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit.

I’m officially a concert junkie. Since attending my first one (Led Zeppelin in August 1970 at the Sports Arena), I’ve witnessed more than 1000 shows. Once I started writing about music 13 years ago, this habit shot into overdrive. I stopped counting after documenting close to 600 San Diego shows. At this point, I’ve showed down quite a bit, partly due to a year’s worth of toxic health issues. But coming off surgery to implant a pacemaker, I’m officially bionic and ready to resume a dedicated quest devoted to taking in as many concerts as I can.

Place

Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

1008 Wall Street, San Diego

I have grown choosier about what I attend, however. I am looking for a transformational experience each time out. I’d prefer to leave any given event a different person from the one who arrived.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The long-running series Jazz at the Athenaeum has been a consistent source of transformational opportunities over the last 30 years. At first, one might not think the stucco and red tile roof building of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library likely to harbor such a musical hotbed, but inside, in the compact Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room, I’ve witnessed more fantastic events than in almost any other location.

On October 12, SDMA-award winning drummer/percussionist/bandleader Nathan Hubbard acted as my chauffeur and “plus-one” to catch the latest iteration of The Bad Plus. The group originally developed as a trio with pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King. That band recorded 14 albums and became popular for offering an avant garde sensibility alongside covers of tunes by Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and Igor Stravinsky. A few years back, Iverson quit the band and was replaced by pianist Orrin Evans, who recorded another two albums with them before departing to pursue his own music. At that point, The Bad Plus dropped the “piano trio,” descriptor and added two new members: guitarist Ben Monder and saxophone/clarinet specialist Chris Speed.

To be honest, the original Bad Plus didn’t do a whole lot for me. Strangely enough, I dug the three founding players individually but was never sold on them as a unit. I was excited, though, to catch the new, expanded line-up, especially in the room which seats 160 listeners. Ben Monder is one of my favorite post-Metheny guitarists and Chris Speed has blown me away when he’s come to San Diego with other bands.

Athenaeum Jazz program coordinator Dan Atkinson sat me in the first row. Just as the show began, Dave King (who was positioned just inches from the audience), wisecracked “Let me know if you can’t hear the drums!” King can get loud, and there were several folks in the first few rows whose ears might still be recovering.

Reid Anderson led things off with a solo bass soliloquy that reminded me of the iconic Charlie Haden. Monder was surrounded by close to a dozen footpedal guitar effects, and at times he seemed to use them all (mostly delays and reverbs); his sonics careened around the room. Speed was hard to hear, and I couldn’t tell if he was holding back, or if the room simply didn’t favor his aesthetic. At one point, Anderson and King became animated about a noise coming from the bass amp.

The noise returned halfway through the fourth tune (“You Won’t See Me Until I Come Back”), and Anderson kicked the amp so hard it moved several feet from its original spot. Everything stopped, and this time it was discovered that a cable had malfunctioned; upon replacement, the music continued with a vengeance. Perhaps to break the ice after his amp-abuse, Anderson quipped “How about that Dewey decimal system?” which made the crowd respond with nervous laughter.

The band was loud, and there were times when the two large mirrors hanging on the back wall seemed to sway in time with the music, but after the amplifier issue, no more drama ensued.

Sponsored
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Word Limit? Apparently. I was just settling in when the Ad Blizzard finished the article. On behalf of Mr Bush, dear reader, let the man write!

Nov. 18, 2022

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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