CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: The Composing Drummer (or the Drumming Composer)

A tentet of works by players who are as mighty with the pen as they are with the sticks

7. Dave King: “Keep the Bugs Off Your Glass and the Bears Off Your Ass” (The Bad Plus, These Are the Vistas, Columbia, 2003)

One of Dave King’s more remarkable facilities, especially in the Bad Plus, is for writing hook-filled bass lines. Indeed, many assume at first that “Keep the Bugs Off Your Glass” was written by bassist Reid Anderson, because not only is the bass figure irresistible but it also clearly drives the movement of everything else in the tune. King’s own loping drum line is sculpted to its contours; Ethan Iverson’s piano part is clearly a complex variation on it. It even informs the soloing. King’s compositions are often the most memorable in the Bad Plus catalog (and almost unfailingly so in his other cooperative trio, Happy Apple). “Keep the Bugs Off Your Glass and the Bears Off Your Ass,” complete with the Kingly humor of its CB-radio-lingo title, contains almost all of the reasons why.

Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.