My photo of the band doesn't do them justice. They're a lot hotter than this in person. Imagine the drummer David King as a tattooed biker battering the kit. Ethan Iverson on the piano keys as a goofy math geek. But it's the bassist Reid Anderson who writes most of the tunes, and holds the group together. This is jazz re-imagined as punk rock.
Here are some better photos:
Their gimmick is that they don't play jazz "standards". Those songs were popular fifty years ago - today's kids love grunge and power pop. So, they instead do covers of Nirvana, Wilco, Pink Floyd and the BeeGees. Hear what they do to Queen's "We Are The Champions":
http://www.patrickkellogg.com/temp/The Bad Plus Plays Queens We Are the Champions.mp3
Nice, huh? Unlike a lot of modern jazz, you can still make out the melody. Here's a more outlandish take on Blondie's "Heart Of Glass":
http://www.patrickkellogg.com/temp/The Bad Plus Plays Blondies Heart of Glass.mp3
I think that's the very definition of "deconstruction". At tonight's show, they were a little cranky, and played all original tunes. But I didn't mind - their own compositions are fantastic. And I'm sure they don't want to be written of as the "Weird Al Yankovic" of jazz. I love the idea that creative improvisation is not dead, and I have high hopes for the future of jazz.