Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
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

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Happy Apple Back on Top
Happy Apple Back on...
Sunnyside Records
2008
buy
[no cover]
Happy Apple Back On...
Universal
2007
buy
The Peace Between Our Companies
The Peace Between Our...
Sunnyside Records
2005
buy
[no cover]
The Peace Between Our...
Universal
2004
buy
Youth Oriented
Youth Oriented
Sunnyside Records
2003
buy
[no cover]
Youth Oriented
Universal
2002
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
saxophone
John Scofield John Scofield
guitar
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
piano
McCoy Tyner McCoy Tyner
piano
The Bad Plus The Bad Plus
band/orchestra
Branford Marsalis Branford Marsalis
saxophone
Greg Osby Greg Osby
saxophone
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: Motéma Music | BUY IT  

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.