A smart, likable hybrid of rock, pop, and jazz

The general rule: Hot bands that get serious Internet buzz are of the garage-rock, disco, or hip-hop variety — practically never jazz. The Bad Plus, a trio consisting of drums, bass, and piano, are a splendid exception. Prog, their latest release (out 5/8), features covers of rock hits and their own compositions; the result is an unexpected sound that’s both improvisational and reliably hooky.

Their own songs, such as the stunning “Physical Cities,” are propulsive and catchy. But the Bad Plus don’t lose focus when they slow things down — as on “Giant,” where a layer of beautifully cascading chords keeps the music focused. And the covers are excellent. Their version of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” will show you how people who grew up listening to the same music you did can turn a pop hit into a jazz standard.

“>LISTEN to sample tracks on the band’s MySpace page

“>BUY Prog

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A smart, likable hybrid of rock, pop, and jazz