The Bad Plus

Avant-garde Midwestern classico-jazz-pop trio The Bad Plus’ second CD is a fine moody ride. Pianist Ethan Iverson serves up large doses of quirkiness mixed in with occasionally grandiose-sounding concert pianist chops. The music of Iverson and his equally talented, musically fearless band mates, Reid Anderson on upright bass and David King on drums, is a sonic treat for those ears that revel in the innovative and unexpected. The Bad Plus manages to combine bits and pieces of familiar musical styles—the Latinesque sounds of Iverson’s “Cheney Piñata” or the heavily classical-sounding sections of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”—with new ideas to produce pieces of profound interest. Iverson plays the intro to this brilliant version of “Iron Man” with his left hand on a detuned upright and his right on a Steinway. The flamboyant Liberace-like section thrown in near the end is great musical comedy. The trio satisfyingly reworks Ornette Coleman’s “Street Woman” and The Pixies’ “Velouria.” King’s “Layin’ a Strip for the Higher-Self State Line” is a driving, odd and jaunty piece featuring Iverson at his wacky, dissonant, Terry Adams-like best. Fun!