Stories » Montreal Gazette - Sound of 2014 top picks. From Bill Frisell to The Bad Plus

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Montreal Gazette - Sound of 2014 top picks. From Bill Frisell to The Bad Plus

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Many of Juan Rodriguez' picks for 2014 included music that many do not consider jazz, or even rock.

Consider mild-mannered, poll-winning guitarist Bill Frisell, who finds himself the subject of yet another brouhaha about "purity", the likes of which too often afflict the jazz world. He released the unspeakable – a rock ‘n' roll album (ironically titled Guitar in the Space Age, on the Okeh label) reaching back to his 1960s influences, including surfing music, by Duane Eddy, The Chantays, Link Wray and The Beach Boys. Horrors! Critics have lambasted him for nostalgia-mongering. Little wonder, after opening with a sublime seven-minute version of Pipeline, an archetypal surf tune, he follows with a short by-rote Byrds version of Turn! Turn! Turn! with its telling line, "To everything there is a season."

The Rite of Spring by The Bad Plus (Sony), transcends its novelty – a jazz trio with rock volume tackling the 20th century's most iconic classical piece – by playing Stravinsky's masterpiece straight, no chaser, no falling into the cheesy trap of "jazzing up" the classics. To accomplish that, bassist Reid Anderson told me, "was to really delve into the details of the piece and honour them." Given their rep for tackling iconic pop-rock pieces (Smells Like Teen Spirit, et al), "it was kind of a no-brainer even though we put up a little bit of a fight because we knew it was going to be so much work." Remarkably it sounds neither belaboured nor pretentious. It's as seriously exciting as the original was back in 1913. A tour de force by The Bad Plus, a band that truly lives up to its name.  READ THE FULL Montreal Gazette LIST