The Bad Plus initially built an audience with a nifty little trick, turning rock and modern pop tunes into thoroughly legit piano jazz numbers. (Most satisfyingly demonstrated, to my mind, with their version of 1980s MTV inevitability "Everybody Wants to Rule the World.") Loathe to fall into formula, however, they've gone on to explore many other roads, usually shooting for and often attaining a nervous balance between melodic accessibility and free jazz intellectualism.
Their latest leap into the creative ether is a surprisingly faithful reworking of Stravinsky's epochal "Rite of Spring." The trio will alternate programs focusing on the Stravinsky (7:30 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Sunday) with sets emphasizing original material from their upcoming album "Inevitable Western" (7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday) and a kid-friendly matinee (noon Saturday -- will they deconstruct Raffi tunes? One can only dream...) at SFJAZZ. Tickets are $5-$45.
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:
- Saxophonist Jeff Coffin and his compadres in The Mu'tet map the intersections between jam band and fusion, 8 p.m. Wednesday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $22
- Trumpeter Bill Ortiz tackles the Holy Gospel of post-bop jazz, Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," 8 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday at SFJAZZ. Advance tickets ($15-$20) are sold out, but you never know what will happen at the door, and you can hear an awful lot just standing on the sidewalk.
- Modern jazz sax whirlwind and New Orleans folklorist Donald Harrison teams up with fusion legends The Headhunters (minus Herbie Hancock) for an 8 p.m. Friday show at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. $22-$25
- Rachelle Ferrell, a singer with a stunning tonal range and a refreshingly unfussy feel for the standards, shows her stuff at Yoshi's Oakland (8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, $35) and Yoshi's San Francisco (7 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday, $29).
- Leni Stern, fusion's premiere female guitar shredder, explores deeper influences with her Africa-rooted trio, 10 p.m. Saturday at Duende in Oakland. $10
- Drummer Ali Jackson and his trio play straightahead jazz with imagination and vigor, 4 p.m. Sunday at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $25
- Melissa Morgan, a self-assured singer who mixes solid jazz instincts with soul and blues sass, performs with her quartet, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $35
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