It was a familiar parade. On Dec. 27, the founding members of the Bad Plus—pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King—walked single file along the upper banquette at New York’s Village Vanguard toward the stage for their first set of the evening. They were dressed much like I first saw them at the club in February of 2003—the week Columbia Records released the group’s major-label debut, These Are the Vistas—and many other nights there and around town for 15 years. Somehow, the Bad Plus—to me the most compelling, reliably challenging and singularly cohesive trio in 21st-century jazz—always looked like they’d just arrived from three different bands.
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