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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.

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