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This week’s “Recent Listening” post is all about Happy Apple, the band that first introduced me to Dave King and avante garde jazz. This band had SO MUCH influence on me during my college years. I saw them play live at least 100 times between 1998 and 2002, and I have all of their records memorized. Additionally, King gave me about 1.5 gigs of live recordings which I’ve combed through repeatedly.

A handful of recent conversations with friends combined with last week’s “From The Archives” post have conspired to put me back on the train of the Apple’s triumphant discography. DANG IT. They are so good. It is basically everything I want out of music, and the more I dig the more I find. Moving compositions, incredible improvising, deft manipulation of time signatures and odd meters/phrasing, and unreal facility on their instruments. Look it up. Get into it.

My top picks for getting into Happy Apple are:

1) Please Refrain From Fronting … the Apple’s 4th record… an unbelievable display of everything awesome about music.

2) Happy Apple Back On Top … their most recent recording, which unfortunately dates back to 2007.

3) Body Popping, Moon Walking, Top Rocking … the band’s 3rd record, and perhaps their best sounding work (sonically). An amazing audio capturing of this band, with two juggernaut tunes that I can’t get enough of (Barstowe Sizzler, Wishing Book)

4) Blown Shockwaves and Crash Flow … the out-of-print debut recording. In Dave’s own words… “I played stuff on that record that I can’t play anymore. I think I was at the top of my game, chops-wise.”

5) SEEING THEM LIVE. Really appreciating the art behind this music can’t happen fully without witnessing it personally. Since they don’t play out very often anymore, I recommend hitting this great playlist of tracks from their 2011 performance at Lawrence University.

PS… I had an absolute blast last week making this mashup using the 16 seconds of intro groove King plays on “Waltz For The Few Remaining” (off Please Refrain From Fronting). That tune is one of my all time favs.

Bassist Owen Biddle left The Roots to start this project with drummer and all-around music juggernaut Zach Danziger. #holyawesomeness

HT: Mono

Wait for it…

HT: Joe Selness

The Doors, right? That’s what I thought. I guess “James Morrison” is also a pretty hip retro soul vocalist, and I had to learn one of his tunes for my NYE gig tomorrow. So I dialed up the Youtube video for the song, and CHECK OUT THE HIHATS THIS DUDE IS ROCKING. 4 cymbals… all 14’s… two on top and two on bottom… just stacked up. I can’t wait to try it myself.

Good job.

HT: Ryan Inselman

Those of you who regularly play in church and “worship music” settings will appreciate these video demonstrations for all the “drum parts” for the new Hillsong album. I put quotes on “drum parts” because that concept is hard to pin down. What all is part of “the drum part” for a song? If you play one of these songs at your church, do you have to do everything exactly the way this drummer does? Is it only the grooves that should be copied exactly, or should fills be copied also?

My general rule (which I’ve mentioned before at clinics and on this blog) is to SERVE THE SONG. Much of what the Hillsong drummer plays follows this rule, but I feel like some of it doesn’t. I’m interested in some feedback on this. As you watch the videos, consider which “drum parts” are serving the song and which are not, and get back to me in the comment section with some specifics.

HT: Skogerboe

This 20-min video is super inspiring on multiple levels and well worth your time to view it…

A few thoughts I had while viewing:

1. Just take out the word “classical” and leave it as simply MUSIC. It seems like classical music snobs are always thinking that the concepts of sadness and resolution only exist in the classical genre. I’m not saying Zander is one of these snobs, but just for your own benefit as a viewer, every time he says “classical music” you can just imagine that he’s talking about music generally.

2. This guy’s passion as a teacher is what I aim for. People are paying attention and listening to his playing not only because he’s herding them well but also because his affection for what he’s doing is so contagious.

3. Seems like “sparkly eyes” in people with whom you come into contact are a good thing to shoot for in every aspect of life, not just a teacher/student relationship.

4. Why do classical piano players monkey with the time THAT much? I mean, I get it with the whole expressive acellerandos and whatever, but the pulse on his full Chopin performance is ALL OVER THE MAP. Does it really need to be? Sheesh.

5. Zander’s description of music’s power to affect change within one’s emotions is exactly what I’m getting at in my post about music as a weapon. Imagine evoking memories of a lost loved one when you weren’t intending to and when it wasn’t helpful. Music has that power, so we as musicians MUST know how to use it.

HT: Erik Anderson

Is this for real?  The maker of the video claims this is a Justin Bieber track 8 times slower than normal, but not pitch shifted.  The result is basically the first Sigur Ros record.  Will Sigur Ros sue this guy for discovering their secret?  Will they sue Justin Bieber?  Will they give a horrible interview about it?

Regardless of whether this video is what it claims to be, it’s beautiful.  The internets, obviously agreeing with the Sigur Ros resemblance, churned this out… which has since spawned a LOT of knock-offs.

This probably isn’t news for those of you that frequent late night television, but I just realized that this week is “Drum Solo Week” on Dave Letterman’s show. Anton Fig, the 25+ year house drummer for Letterman, opened things up on Monday night, and Sheila E brought some heat last night.

Tonight’s artist is none other than the great Roy Haynes (who will undoubtedly be sporting the hippest thread while also laying waste to the other performers), and the week caps off tomorrow with the grand finale of Neil Peart.

I mean, it’s probably worth watching.

Think about how this would SOUND.

HT: Huntley Miller

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