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The Bad Plus 

Prog (Heads Up/Do the Math)

If you're a classic-rock fan with a jazz jones, check out the Bad Plus' Prog -- and do it without looking at the track list; you'll be pleasantly surprised. Here's a couple of hints: 1) Last time out, the instrumental jazz trio covered Sabbath's "Iron Man." 2) Tony Platt, the dude who engineered AC/DC's Back in Black, produced this disc.

Caution! Spoiler ahead: As the title suggests, the Bad Plus' high-impact material does venture into the outer realms. Two aerobic blowouts push the nine-minute mark, while the disc ends with "1980 World Champion," a dizzying race to the finish line. But Prog's entry points are its unique covers. A breezy take on Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" has all the texture that smooth jazz lacks. Bowie's "Life on Mars" floats like a cloud until pianist Ethan Iverson delivers that transcendent hook.

Then there's the thundering take on Rush's "Tom Sawyer," where Iverson pounds his ivories as hard as David King hits his drums; it's enough to make you believe the song was written with a piano in mind. It's traditional jazz and classic rock.

Speaking of CD Review

More by D.X. Ferris


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