With its flair for covering popular rock anthems, Minneapolis jazz trio the Bad Plus could easily be mistaken for gimmick peddlers. But while it's true that playing a Radiohead song will always get you some automatic crossover cred, the Bad Plus' take on "Karma Police" still beats the holy hell out of Christopher O'Riley's hot-selling new-age rendition. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King have released four albums as the Bad Plus, each combining an elite, technical jazz prowess with freewheeling rock spirit. So a song like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" winds up sounding like a Miles Davis outtake, and Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" gets transported from an '80s dance hall to a smoky '50s jazz club. The familiarity of the tunes draws you in, but the way they're reimagined will make you forget you even know the originals. Oh, and just for good measure, the Bad Plus writes its own songs too. Sink your teeth into the big crescendo of "Lost of Love" from 2005's Suspicious Activity?, and wonder why Radiohead hasn't gotten around to covering it yet.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.