The Bad Plus: These Are the Vistas (Columbia, 2003)
Fifteen years ago, this was another mind-blower and, for some, a feather-ruffler. A jazz piano trio covering Blondie? Nirvana? Aphex Twin? Today—thanks in large part to the Bad Plus’ achievements—none of this seems like such a big deal. But even though the controversy is long over, the music in the grooves still makes plain that pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King pulled off their stylistic coup in marvelous style. Although all three are monster players, King was the biggest revelation back in ’03, coupling nonpareil chops with a restless itch to innovate. Oh, and TBP’s original compositions weren’t bad either.