The Bad Plus has been one of the most important jazz trios over the last 15 years or so. The group has always been co-led by its three members, all of whom are also composers. They made a name for themselves by playing Black Sabbath and Nirvana along with Ornette Coleman and Igor Stravinsky.
They have always been irreverent and also rigorous. Part of the message has been that the music is the leader.
The band has a new piano player. Founding member Ethan Iverson, the pianist, left the group at the end of last year, and drummer Dave King and bassist Reid Anderson asked pianist Orrin Evans to join the group. Without holding tryouts, the new trio continues to use intuition and group creativity as the guiding principle.
The new Bad Plus record featuring Evans, “Never Stop II,” just came out in January. (The original trio released “Never Stop” in 2010.) Evans adds some lovely touches of slightly spooky toy piano to the new recording. One of the ways the band has always operated has been to pull slightly chopped rhythms that sound like processed beats from hip-hop, with King kicking into overdrive with an unexpected backbeat, or sizzling press rolls.
Meanwhile piano and bass establish a sort of calm and stately mood that can be disrupted or stirred into a swirl at will. Tension between poised equilibrium and adventurous blasts keeps the music both enjoyable and interesting. The Bad Plus is in the jazz tradition, but fans of post-rock will appreciate the way these talented players and composers can scramble signals.
See the Bad Plus at The Side Door, 85 Lyme St., Old Lyme, on Thursday, March 15, at 8:30 p.m. $55. 860-434-0886 and thesidedoorjazz.com.