The best jazz band in all of rock
It’s no small irony that one of the only modern groups inverting the traditional concept of the jazz trio is also performing some of the genre’s most user-friendly music. The Bad Plus has spent the past 16 years creating an explosive mix rooted in gleeful improvisation, exacting composition and the occasional pop-song cover. It took a fine example of the latter to bring them attention outside of traditional jazz circles: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the unlikely third track of their 2003 major-label debut, These Are The Vistas. Aggressively recorded by Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Pearl Jam, Tom Waits), the album easily distinguished itself with heart-stopping virtuosity and sonic ferocity. The Bad Plus continues developing both of these aspects on its latest release, Prog. “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” and “Life On Mars” both receive willful and gorgeous deconstruction here, but the real essence of things lies in two original compositions, “Physical Cities” and “Giant,” in which the band deviously expands the possibilities of what jazz is and will become.