Ethan Iverson. Edinburgh Jazz Festival, July 2006.

Ethan Iverson seated

The pianist in The Bad Plus trio, Iverson said he was unaccustomed to playing solo gigs now, and he appeared slightly nervous. Unlike the iconoclastic Bad Plus – who cover all kinds of material (including Abba, Nirvana and Black Sabbath) – Iverson played a set of jazz standards, tunes deeply engrained in the fabric of jazz music – many of the tunes coming from the Frank Sinatra songbook. It could just be that Sinatra covered all the standards, of course.

Iverson started the concert by playing the tunes pretty straight: he began sounding like Art Tatum, with lots of arpeggios up and down the keyboard. He then stretched out and became more modernist, more Monk-like.

Ethan Iverson moving

He became very animated, his feet pounding the floor intensely, hitting the keys and standing over the keyboard.

He became more adventurous as the evening wore on, deconstructing the later tunes and then building them back up.

He played a sombre – or, as Iverson described it, “unusually depressing” – version of Stardust – he hit some wrong notes in the introduction, and he said he never recovered. Sombre, but beautiful.

It was a captivating gig, Iverson putting a lot of energy into his playing and producing some striking music.


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