BCG on Something Else’s “Best of 2015 Fusion Jazz”

S. Victor Aaron of Something Else! just published part 4 of his Best Albums of 2015, this time focusing on Fusion Jazz, and Brad Cheeseman Group was among his top 16 fusion records of 2015 (alongside masterful releases from Chris Potter, Donny McCaslin and John McLauglin)!

Check out his initial review over on Something Else and then check it out on Bandcamp to see what all the fuss is about!

The Brad Cheeseman Group will be making its first live appearance of 2016 this Thursday Jan 7 at The Rex in Toronto, ON.

Holiday special: 20% off at Bandcamp

For the month of December, get 20% off everything at using the code CHEESEMAS at checkout.

This includes:

  • Mixed Messages EP (2013) – Hamilton Music Award winner (digital or CD)
  • Brad Cheeseman Group (2015) – Toronto Independent Music Award nominee (digital or CD)
  • Charts (concert pitch, in .pdf format) for “Bad Groove,” “La Choza,” “Let Me Explain,” “Make or Break for It,” “Skyglow,” and “Taiya”
  • Chart package (transposed, in .pdf) for the entire Mixed Messages EP (including the bonus track “Clouds”)
  • Transcription of the bass solo on “Make or Break for It”

Head on over to Bandcamp now to use the code CHEESEMAS and get 20% off whatever you want!

“Practice Makes Progress” on Medium

In my double-life as a David Foster Wallace nerd, I wrote an article for Medium’s Just Words series discussing Infinite Jest, tennis and improvised music. You can check it out over at Medium.

As a side note, Just Words is in support of the recent film The End of the Tour, which is based on David Lipsky’s novel Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself and stars Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky and Jason Segel as Wallace. I was lucky to see an advance screening (and take part in a Skype Q&A with director James Ponsoldt) at the DFW Conference back in May and, if you’re on the fence about seeing it, I would encourage you to check it out! Segel gives a create performance.

Ear-Tickler: The Bad Plus, “Iron Man,” and humour/irony in music

One thing that I love about the Bad Plus is their subtle use of musical humour, something that can be found across their entire discography and is perhaps best exemplified by their arrangement of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” (found on their 2004 record Give).

For starters, let me clarify that this cover in itself is not humorous or jokey. I think it accurately captures the intensity and raw energy of the original Sabbath recording, realized here in the sheer volume of the performance (Iverson and King are playing the shit out of their instruments), the very low range of the piano’s left hand parts (a more overtone-rich range that might compare to distorted guitar) and the free-ish right hand parts. The chaos is delicious.

But then go back and listen to Dave King’s first fill at at 0:52, which sounds straight out of Rock Drums 101; executed perfectly but also with what sounds to me like a knowing wink. The Bad Plus frequently mixes elements of various genres but usually this blatantly (his next big fill at 1:10 is more fitting of his style. Also, I love how the time pulls way back during the ends of these phrases!). And then in the middle of all of Ethan’s atonal piano riffing comes these big, consonant triads at 1:17. The “tell” for me, apart from the abruptness of their appearance, is how cleanly they’re stated (like King’s opening drum fill). Everything else is either chaotic, loose, or sludgy in execution. All of these details are most noticeable during the major variation around 4:26; awesome dissonance between the major tonality and everything that came before, there’s that same clean/clear statement of the ideas (at least for the beginning), consonant piano improvisation, and then a sudden change in dynamics for the outro (itself an “opposite” interpretation of the original).

It’s all very tongue-in-cheek but it’s also pretty triumphant. More importantly, the humour/ ironic, “wink-wink” ideas never feel cheap or without merit and are contextualized within a respectful and authentic interpretation. Instead, they partially enhance an already interesting and exciting arrangement/performance.