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Gig Preview: BADBADNOTGOOD at Coniston Lane

Words by Scenewave Oz - Published on September 3, 2013

Fuck that shit. Everyone’s played it, it’s 50 years old, it sounds like crap. Write a new song and stop playing that goddam song. I don’t care if you can fucking modulate in it, and change the shit up, or if you can play it in 7 or 9. It’s fucking boring. That’s what I think about Giant Steps.”

BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) are a Canadian three-piece who have consistently eschewed genre classification, music school and apparently playing Coltrane standards. The three permanent members Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (acoustic/electric bass) and Alex Sowinski (percussion/samples) met whilst at enrolled at the Humber College jazz program and bonded over a mutual appreciation of James Blake and Lil B. For a piece of performance assessment, Tavares, Hansen and Sowinski performed “A Jazz Tribute to Odd Future and Bangladesh” which featured a mashup of Bangladesh’s production of the Gucci Mane track “Lemonade” and Odd Future’s “Bastard” and an Earl-Tyler track “AssMilk”. Despite not getting much kudos from the assessment panel, after uploading a live recording of the performance to Youtube BBNG blew up.

The listener-artist relationship between BBNG and Odd Future came full circle when, in 2011 Tyler, The Creator jammed with BBNG in Sowinski’s basement. With his endorsement, and that of Giles Peterson, BBNG have gone from strength to strength, having played Coachella, Glastonbury, Montreux Jazz Festival and released two LPs and a live EP (all available for free here). Much of their work thus far has been reinterpretations but BBNG have an incredible ability to unpack songs, turn everything inside out, and then reassemble them in such a way as to make you think they were originally written like that. Riding on the back of the collaboration with Tyler, they’ve since worked with Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang and produced “Hoarse” on Earl Sweatshirt’s new album Doris.

They’re often labelled as a post-bop/hip-hop/jazz group, but I think that’s far too narrow a classification. Their training as jazz musicians is self-evident (and being able to name drop Bill Evans and Robert Glasper in a track listing is pretty cool), but Sowinski’s time spent playing in high-school groups provides a rougher, harder edge to the traditional jazz instrumentation, and the additional layers brought out by the use of sampling allows for a more textural and often darker sound. Watching Tavares, a multi-instrumentalist, you can’t help but be struck by his splayed-finger, leg-stomping approach that isn’t particularly common. I’m not comparing him to Monk, but the less restrained approach makes the sound that much more real, and when combined with Hansen’s clever use of the upper register has the effect of creating a timbre that belies the instrumentation.

Given the often frenetic energy in many of their tracks, it’s no surprise that their live shows have gained wide acclaim. You can catch them in Brisbane on 19 September @ Consiton Lane. Tickets are available here:


Posted in Events, Gigs, Music

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