The band that set jazz on its head in some new ways starting with 2001’s The Bad Plus, billing itself as “the loudest piano trio ever,” takes on Igor Stravinsky’s powerful and cacophonic 1913 ballet. In terms of mining the classical canon, it may be a perfect choice for a group that specializes in the unexpected. “First Part: Adoration of the Earth” has pianist Ethan Iverson laying out the knotty, beautifully dissonant theme and creating coloration by morphing complexity, tone, and tempo. The repetitive, frantic, fractured goings-on of “Ritual of Abduction” is wonderfully undertaken by Iverson and his mates, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. “Spring Rounds” opens with a pensive, sprightly moment, the spare, plucked-bass notes against high piano trill, then after a cymbal crescendo comes the momentous, plodding melodic figure. In the midst of what is for the most part a literal reading of the score, this band manages some unique flavors. The orchestral version of the “Glorification of the Chosen One” section is a swirling, magnificent discord. With The Bad Plus you get the sense of crazy dancing, a dazzling confusion of glistening legs. “Ritual Action of the Ancestors” is utterly suspenseful and then crashing, but at points the trio approaches the realm of the comedic with a jaunty piano treatment and military drum rolls. Overall, the music is ambitious, fascinating, and brilliant.
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