Prog (Do the Math/Heads Up International), the latest provocative slab from the locally tied iconoclastic trio the Bad Plus, could have just as easily been called Prod—as in stir things up with a big, wicked stick. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King, who return from globetrotting for their annual Christmas week residency at the Dakota, have long been at the forefront of the movement to shake expectations by finding common ground—albeit on the far side of the looking glass—among jazz, rock, and classical. King and Anderson provide an aggressive, thunderous rhythm section without sacrificing dexterity or nuance, while Iverson's lush stylings veer among symphonic flourishes, pop melodicism that can suddenly dash off on syncopated jazz runs, and fierce, free jazz pounding akin to Cecil Taylor. As usual, Prog juggles insatiably curious originals with a handful of twisted covers, in this case thoroughly revolutionized versions of Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," David Bowie's "Life on Mars," Rush's "Tom Sawyer," and Burt Bacharach's Herb Alpert vehicle "This Guy's in Love with You." Ever cerebral and witty, and as full of surprises as serious chops and intent, these bad-asses are a major plus on any bleak midwinter eve.
Wednesdays-Fridays, 8 & 10 p.m. Starts: Dec. 26. Continues through Dec. 29, 2007