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PopMatters interviews Reid Anderson of The Bad Plus

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Jazz trio The Bad Plus has often been referred to as a "rock group that plays jazz"."

People didn't arrive at this description through their sound alone. Their choice in repertoire early on sealed that crossover appeal. The band's major label debut featured covers of Nirvana, Blondie, and Aphex Twin. And with each subsequent release, I would always wonder "What are they going to cover next?" The answers never failed to surprise. 2005's Suspicious Activity? had only one cover ("(Theme From) Chariots of Fire"). Two albums later, the Bad Plus recorded For All I Care, an album of nothing but covers. The next two releases featured only original material composed by all three members. In the wake of this moving-target method were sturdy piano, bass and drum renditions of Yes, Rush, Tears for Fears, the Flaming Lips, the Pixies, Milton Babbit and Igor Stravinsky. And what came next was still a bit of a surprise.

Duke Performances at Duke University commissioned the group to arrange and perform Stravinsky's monumental ballet The Rite of Spring. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King set to work giving this controversial work the unmistakable Bad Plus spin. After performing it live around the globe, a studio recording was released on Sony Masterworks. Press has been good and no rioting has ensued. The shock of a sacrificial virgin dancing herself to death has faded in the rear view over the past 100 years. What has remained is the music.

As Reid Anderson chatted with PopMatters, he frequently referred to the score of the ballet as "powerful", something that can and does stand on its own musical merits to this very day. In our conversation Anderson elaborated on the nature of the work, how it could benefit everyone if we gave the score and the dance a fresh coat of paint, and what we can expect from the Bad Plus later this year. READ THE FULL PopMatters INTERVIEW.