Never Stop

[E1 Entertainment]

On its first album of all original material, the Bad Plus—bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson, and drummer David King—makes the transition from gimmicky hipster jazz act to legitimate contenders. The trio lets it fly right from the get-go: Opening track “The Radio Tower Has a Beating Heart” is a shimmering, explosive number. For the most part, the songs aspire to an almost epic sound. (We are talking about a group of guys who have offered up avant-jazz renditions of bombastic rock numbers such as Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” and Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”) The piano melody of “Never Stop” leaves a lasting impression, and “You Are” features a layered piano riff that could have been culled from a Radiohead tune. “People Like You” and “Snowball” are beautiful ballads that feature Keith Jarrett-like piano melodies, suggesting these guys can leave their cover-band days behind. –Jeff Niesel

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