A Jazz Rite that Sounds Right

The Rite of Spring


performed by the Bad Plus

Sony Masterworks CD


It has long been a touchstone and signifying landmark for Twentieth Century, but particularly around its centenary (2013), Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring) provoked much conversation, reevaluation, and reinterpretation. One can imagine a jazz trio translation of the piece falling flat, exchanging riffing for structure and exploiting ostinatos instead of shaping them. However, this is not the case on the Bad Plus’ rendition of the work. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King have created a transcription that is quite faithful to the original. And, despite some electronic adornments, where the piano trio loses some of the “oomph” that a full orchestra brings to bear on Stravinsky’s energetic climaxes, the leaner format neatly underscores other details in the music: time changes, polyrhythms, linear interaction, and piquant harmonies. After hearing this, one wants to go back to the full score with these details firmly in mind; but one also wants to return again to the Bad Plus’s thoughtful homage to this totemic work.

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