Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Short takes:

Happy Apple: If you’re a fan of David King of The Bad Plus, check out the other band he’s involved in, Happy Apple. The group is based in King’s hometown of Minneapolis (a great jazz city by the way) and is made up of King on drums, Michael Lewis on saxophones and Erik Fratzke on electric bass. They have some of the same rock and pop influences as The Bad Plus, but they approach them with a bit of a jazzier attitude.

Their album Youth Oriented is an excellent introduction to the band and their music. It also has some of the coolest artwork of the CD era in their comic book liner notes. If received two concerts of the band’s 2003 tour of France in a trade and can confirm that they are excellent live as well. Along with The Bad Plus, this band could be one of the groups that brings jazz to the attention of a young audience.

Fred Anderson: Fred Anderson started attracting attention late in his career, getting hooked up with Ken Vandermark and the rest of the Chicago avant-garde crowd. He’s not your typical avant-gardist however, as his long career has allowed him to absorb bop, swing and the revolutionary work of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. His new disc Back Together Again, presents him in a duet context with longtome cohort and master percussionist Hamid Drake, a musician who is comfortable in every setting from reggae to free jazz. The two men share an almost telepathic bond and this infuses the music. Only the poor recording quality of the disc hold things back. I’ve never had problems before with any of Thrill Jockey’s material, so I was disappointed to hear a nesting buzzing sound throughout the first tune, and the DVD that accompanied the music was also defective. It’s a shame – music this good deserves better.

Happy Apple – Youth Oriented: 7.5
Anderson and Drake – Back Together Again: 7

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