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The Bad Plus: For All I Care

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It was inevitable, perhaps, that The Bad Plus would make an all-covers album. Each member of the celebrated Midwestern trio (pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, drummer David King) is an accomplished composer, delivering quirky pieces with new ideas about the boundaries of jazz harmony and rhythm; however, since their 2003 arrival on the international scene with a stomping take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the bulk of attention they’ve received has been for their exploratory versions of pop and rock songs, from Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” to “Theme From Chariots of Fire.”

The Bad Plus maintains that this facet of their work is not a gimmick or novelty. They play the rock-era songs with humor and irreverence, but no more than on originals and jazz compositions. This music is simply the soundtrack to their time and place, just as New Orleans jazz was to Louis Armstrong and Kansas City blues was to Charlie Parker. Like those titans, the music The Bad Plus makes draws from the music they know-and that repertoire thus merits serious study.

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