April 18, 2012

Little known fact: The Passion of the Weiss staff is 34.3 percent Canadian. Common sense would dictate that we’d wave the Maple Leaf for whatever respectable outfit would come out of the land of the writhing sun. But if you’ve read this site for a while, you’d know that isn’t the case. Drake gets treated with the respect a man with an Aaliyah tattoo deserves and group-think considers Feist less than we consider how to conjugate the verb, “Fanute.” But a consensus has formed aboot Badbandnotgood, a jazz-fusion trio of Torontonians, all of whom aren’t old enough to legally imbibe Molson in the States.

On paper, white kids doing covers of Kanye West and Odd Future should lean towards the bad end of the spectrum. Jazz is ostensibly anachronistic, the province of junkies and juke joints, a building block in a musical education but rarely a contemporary end in and of itself. But over the last two years, the emergence of Thundercat and Robert Glasper have upended the conventional logic that’s existed since Branford Marsalis and Primo got breakfast at Denny’s. Thundercat blends George Duke with the Low End Theory sound, while Glasper does for jazz what neo-soul did to classic rhythm and blues. But BBNG blend everything from Bangladesh to James Blake into a delirious blur of saxophones, jazz piano, and bass lines as thick as a Monster Truck tire.

Last night at the Mint, they vouched for why they’ve essentially become the Odd Future House Band. Tyler and Earl Sweatshirt were bugging out like they were watching Miles in his prime. BBNG are innately funky, have a fluid knack for improvisation and boast a power that belies the three-piece formation. Rap songs were broken down to amino acids and re-formed with entirely different DNA. Unless you have Madvillain memorized, you might have missed the way they constructed a new mask around the “Supervillain Theme.” What’s so fresh is how un-forced it seems. Jazz history has always revolved around standards and BBNG are among the first of their generation to approach it with an entirely different vocabulary and reference points.

They might be unlikely to revolutionize the spinning wheel, but they are more today than yesterday. This is not my grandfather’s jazz, but I know that he’d want to get burn one to BBNG. And that’s probably the highest compliment I can offer.

ZIP: BadBadNotGood — BBNG2 (Left-Click)

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