Tad Britton grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota; hence the title of his debut album as a bandleader, Black Hills. The Seattle-based drummer has led an unusual life for a jazzman, getting his start in country bands as a teenager and spending a lengthy stint in the official house band of the Church of the Subgenius, the Swingin' Love Corpses, during the '80s and early '90s. A long association with mellow bassist Jeff Johnson, his musical partner on this low-key trio set, gives a better clue as to the content of Black Hills. Britton, Johnson and pianist Marc Seales are beholden to no particular subgenre of contemporary jazz, favoring a simple, meditative style and a taste for unexpected covers one wouldn't expect to work in a piano trio context, like James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," Michel Legrand's "The Windmills of Your Mind" and, most unusually, Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" transformed into a mournful ballad. These aren't attention grabbing hack jobs like the Bad Plus' covers of alt-rock classics, but simple, respectful versions of familiar songs that find unexpected byways within their well-worn tunes. The originals are equally fine, recalling perhaps a less experimental, more meditative version of E.S.T. Definitely worth a close listen.