happyapple-2Happy Apple Featuring drummer Dave King playing Ballard Tuesday night at the Tractor Tavern

Happy Apple was smoking. The house was not packed so that means that many of you really missed out on another fantastic Earshot Jazz Special Concert presentation. Although it is great to be at the Tractor when it is packed and the crowd is swinging, A smaller crowd there is much more intimate and it seems the band can relate to eveyone more closely. I know I enjoyed it a lot. The rest of the copy below is excerpted from Earshot Magazine description of the group by Danielle Bias.

Named after the popular Fisher Price toy of the 1960s, the Minneapolis-based trio Happy Apple features saxophonist (and part-time keyboardist) Michael Lewis, electric bassist Erik Fratzke and drummer Dave King, best known for his work with the genre-bending group The Bad Plus. The band recently released its seventh CD, Back on Top (Sunny Side Records) and performed selections from that release as well as an eclectic mix of original compositions and re-imaginings of familiar and not-so-familiar jazz and rock tunes.

According to King, “Happy Apple formed in 1996. We bonded over a love of Albert Ayler and ‘Too Close for Comfort,’ or anything Ted Knight did for that matter.” Many readers will be old enough to remember the television sitcom ‘Too Close for Comfort,’ which ran original episodes from 1980 to 1983 and later evolved into The Ted Knight Show.

Hearing King’s reference to this cult television classic, it is not surprising to read in a recent New York Times review references to Happy Apple’s somewhat peculiar ability to “put you in mind of old TV themes: ‘Barney Miller,’ ‘Taxi,’ ‘Hill Street Blues,’…as if the band members all grew up glued to the set but resumed listening to their Julius Hemphill records during the commercials.”


When the trio took the stage at the Tractor Tavern on May 19th, the audience was be prepared to cast off expectations of what it means for any modern-day band to fuse together jazz and rock. They also should have dismissed concerns about whether or not this task can be accomplished with sincerity to produce a favorable outcome. For there are very few bands out there, in any genre, as ferocious, engaging, entertaining, and yes, even as sincere as Happy Apple.

King writes a good chunk of the music the bands plays (besides Happy Apple and The Bad Plus, he also plays with an electronica/pop band called Halloween, Alaska). In the Twin Cities where King lives, he is a leader of a growing community of rock-influenced jazz musicians who often attract younger crowds that are not necessarily inclined towards jazz.


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