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Happy Apple: The Peace Between Our Companies

Dave King can really pulverize his drums-and on occasion he actually does. This behavior has made him and the Bad Plus, the group he usually plays in, a critical target. In the meantime, King’s other band, Happy Apple, continues to tour, release records and, one supposes, draw from a growing pool of Bad Plus fans.

But Happy Apple isn’t anything like the Bad Plus.

While the latter band draws from the rock songbook, the former allows a rock aesthetic to inform much of what it does. Happy Apple, which also includes bass guitarist Erik Fratzke and saxophonist Michael Lewis, combines rock with free jazz and postbop, taking a much scruffier, grungier approach to its music than the Bad Plus. Fratzke, who likes to play his bass like a punk rocker, can claim just as much credit for the band’s style as King.

On Happy Apple’s latest recording, The Peace Between Our Companies, Fratzke keeps his bass lines relatively simple and pounds out lines of single notes. When he hooks up with King in one of his rowdier moments, as on “Starchild Cranium,” they can really generate a lot of intensity. On this rangy recording, though, they are just as likely to shift into atmospherics, cede center stage and provide minimalist support to the forceful albeit somewhat anonymous Lewis, as on “See Sun Spot Run” and “Let’s Not Reflect.” They’re much better off at high speed.

Originally Published