Ethan Iverson: Technically Acceptable

The pianist's second Blue Note album mixes the blues, rhythm changes, Monk on theremin, a sonata and some Roberta Flack


Pianist Ethan Iverson built a reputation primarily on founding The Bad Plus before moving on to pastures new. This album is his second for the Blue Note label, confirming him as a performer who is difficult to pigeonhole stylistically.

When embracing his own compositions, the approach can vary from straightahead swing to Monkish angularity with the occasional nod to off-centre excursions. All this is happily taken on board by his rhythm section support which embraces this flexibility, evincing a similarly loose direction, although never ever going beyond the strict structure of the music.

The leader also shows an appreciation for the more formal elements of piano performance with the sonata which closes the disc. It finds him in isolation and shows a different string to his bow. Similarly, the inclusion of Killing Me Softly With His Song takes us in a slightly different direction before the use of the theremin on ’Round Midnight – possibly a step too far for some ears.

(1) Conundrum; Victory Is Assured (Alla Breve); Technically Acceptable; Who Are You, Really?; The Chicago Style; It’s Fine To Decline: The Way Things Are; (2) Killing Me Softly With His Song; (3) ’Round Midnight; (2) The Feeling Is Mutual; (4) (Piano Sonata) Allegro Moderato; Andante; Rondo (49.07)
(1) Iverson (p); Thomas Morgan (b); Kush Abadey (d). New York, April & June 2023.
(2) as (1) but omit Morgan and Abadey, add Simon Willson (b); Vinnie Sperrazza (d).
(3) as (1) but omit Morgan and Abadey but add Rob Schwimmer (Theremin).
(4) as (3) but omit Schwimmer.
Blue Note 00602455812186