According to Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson, the concept of creating jazz versions of pop songs like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," and Queen's "We Are the Champions" came even before the band's inception in 2000.
"We've been friends since we were 15 years old, and I remember us talking about that idea back when we were in high school together," he explains. "I guess part of it was that at that age, we loved jazz, but the genre wasn't dealing with musical subject matter that was part of our lives' experience and we wanted to bridge that gap."
Fans seem to understand the group's notion, and have responded positively to their takes on those songs. "People like to hear things that they are familiar with, and I think that they're often surprised by the choices that we make," he says. "We make all that music with all our conviction behind it, and it's gotten really incredible response from people."
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus. Sunday, May 4, SunFest, 525 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Show starts at noon. Tickets cost $29 561 659-5980, www.sunfest.com
Their original material is also showcased on their studio recordings and during their live sets, which reflect the individual songwriting talents of each member of the group. "We all write individually, and then we bring a song into the band that is more or less fully conceived and that each one adds their own approach to," Reid says.
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Though the Midwestern-born musicians have known each other for many years, the band only came together after they had already developed individual careers on their own.
After coming together for a club date in Minneapolis, they realized there was plenty of chemistry that could be developed, and after a recording session a few days later, they decided to officially start the band.
"When we finally did that, it felt like we had a band sound already, so it was something that we all immediately became committed to."
This will be the band's second visit to South Florida this year — in March, they were featured as part of the Langerado Festival, which happened before they took to the studio to begin work on their next disc, which is planned for release in 2009. "It was fun to go down there, and it seemed like people were really into it," he recalls. It should be even more fun, as they share the spotlight with the likes of John Mayer, Fergie, and fellow jazz band The Rippingtons.