“Happy Apple” is a Minneapolis based modern jazz trio featuring multi-reedman Michael Lewis, drummer David King and electric bassist Erik Fratzke. On Body Popping - Moon Walking – Top Rocking the band articulate somewhat of a blood and guts approach. With the lengthy opener titled “The Barstow Sizzler” the trio advance through subtle microtonal passages while concurrently working the free-jazz side of the spectrum and exploring delicate themes, yet climactically pick up steam via rollicking and downright explosive interplay. Hard funk/free-bop/jazz prevails throughout, as the band’s imperious sense of verve and pulse pay huge dividends! Saxophonist Michael Lewis generally spearheads the often turbulent and circuitous paths atop a heavy and thoroughly vibrant bottom on compositions such as “Marvin Says”. Here, fender bassist Erik Fratzke shows his impressive chops with a blistering and impossibly fast solo as David King supplies the crisp drumming along with a shrewd flair for dynamics and flinging African-style tom fills. The name of the game is something like – keep things on the upswing yet don’t allow the listener to become complacent. With “Marvin Says”, Lewis extrapolates airy, complex and predominately fluid lines through his soprano sax while spurring the band into some extracurricular activities!
The musicians take a much needed rest on the affable yet somewhat uneventful soul-blues ballad, “Where Does A Stranger Go On Christmas Eve” yet come back revitalized and vengeful on the post-Bop/Funk piece, ”The Express Lane Really Isn’t All That Fast”. Throughout all of the sweeping choruses and punchy rhythms Lewis and Fratzke pursue tasty yet expertly executed unison lines while Lewis also exhibits his skillful employment of extended breathing techniques - from top to bottom.
Happy Apple is a band with a firmly rooted mission in mind as they pursue the - “new jazz” way of thinking - which for all intents and purposes is a fairly open-ended conceptual proposition. Therefore, Body Popping – Moon Walking –Top Rocking is engagingly hip, charmingly boisterous and loads of fun! Recommended! * * * *
Erik Fratzke; Fender Bass: David King; Drums, Cymbals & Waterphone: Michael Lewis; Soprano, Alto & Tenor Saxophones.