The Bad Plus

By - Aug 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By Jeremy Saperstein

The Bad Plus These Are The Vistas Columbia

Although it could be easily dismissed as a calculated and cynical move, I find it hard to dislike any band that presents jazz-trio covers of Nirvana’s über-punk anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass”, especially one who does them as well The Bad Plus.

Yep, it would be easy, but the Bad Plus have the audacity to be better than hack musicians trying to milk the last drops dry from alterna-madness. Really, all the trio (Reid Anderson on bass, Ethan Iverson on piano, David King on drums) is doing is to continue in the tradition of jazzbos from the 40s and 50s, who would put their own stamp on popular songs of the day (John Coltrane’s take on “My Favorite Things” comes to my mind, for example).

Indeed, there are some other fine songs on this disc, like the airy “Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Of Your Ass” (which actually made me think of the open road even before I read the C.B.-inspired title) and “1972 Bronze Medalist” (which evokes weird visions of Peanuts characters competing in the Munich Olympics).

The Bad Plus have made a daring bid. Time will tell if they can back it up.

I’m hoping they can.

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