417

Happy Apple: Happy Apple Back on Top

Sean Patrick Fitzell By

Sign in to view read count
Happy Apple: Happy Apple Back on Top Before becoming synonymous with self-indulgent excess—or worse, smoothed-out pap—fusion offered the excitement of joining jazz improvisation and harmonic sophistication with rock energy and driving rhythms. Though they may not self-identify with fusion, a growing number of musicians raised on both rock and jazz feel no compunction in drawing influences from and blending both. One such group is the Minneapolis trio Happy Apple: saxophonist (and occasional keyboardist) Michael Lewis, electric bassist Erik Fratzke and drummer Dave King, better known for genre-tweaking with The Bad Plus. On their seventh CD, they mine a seemingly inexhaustible vein of grooves to support their catchy themes.

"The New Bison" exemplifies the rhythmic inventiveness they employ to vary the musical feel. Its funky bass intro supports a bluesy tenor and then speeds up before stopping short and shifting into a mellower, melodic bridge with a peppy beat. A syncopated Latin-esque groove buttresses "Lefse Los Cubanos," as the bass emphasizes the upbeats and the sax alternates between linear and swirling movement. King also drives "Calgon for Hetfield" with offbeat accents and drum colors against Fratzke's drawn-out notes.

Beyond chops displays, King's frenetic drumming often acts as quasi-melodic counterpoint to the saxophone. After throbbing bass opens "Hence the Turtleneck," the tempo haltingly accelerates, segueing into a tighter ensemble section where the drum fills offer commentary and response to the unfurling sax lines. The slowly-building "Most Popular to Succeed" gains momentum over nine minutes with dexterous drum and saxophone exchanges. Fratzke acts as the spine, providing shape and context. He stretches out on "1996 A.D.," a tune that begins with a Blue Note organ-trio groove then morphs into a speed-walking gait for his embellishments.

Happy Apple posits that in casting off the baggage of labels, jazz and rock can be fused for sincere, adventurous results.


Track Listing: The New Bison; Very Small Rock; 1996 A.D.; Rise! Marc Anthony; Calgon For Hetfield; Lefse Los Cubanos; He's O.K.; Brown Lights; Hence the Turtleneck; Most Popular to Succeed; Density in Dan's Fan City.

Personnel: Dave King: drums; Erik Fratzke: electric bass; Michael Lewis: tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones and keyboards.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Positive Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Positive Changes
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "Pivot: Live At The 55 Bar" CD/LP/Track Review Pivot: Live At The 55 Bar
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 19, 2016
Read "American Tunes" CD/LP/Track Review American Tunes
by Mike Jacobs
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Goran Ivanovic Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Goran Ivanovic Trio
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "Joyride" CD/LP/Track Review Joyride
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "More Serious Business" CD/LP/Track Review More Serious Business
by Jeff Winbush
Published: March 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!