Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the first night of Dave King’s 2-night extravaganza. King called it “a celebration of the idea of committing to a band” – the same theme of ensemble primacy that he emphasized last night at the Making Music chat. And it was apparent all night – the joy and ease with which everyone interacted musically, King’s wide smile, the intense focus they showed to each other’s playing. You could see how they were all listening to each other and everything with such intensity.
Tonight was classic King – exuberant performances, the widest range of musical dynamics, and hilarious comedy bits in between, keeping us engaged and shaking our heads. This has always been the way I’ve seen King present his work – a messianic intensity with comic relief. The video clips of him with his kids was classic, and brilliantly funny and absurd.
This was the type of show that really showcases the McGuire’s strengths as a concert hall – acoustic music heard with sublime clarity and resonance. Throughout the night, I marveled at how well I could hear everything and everyone – every last detail. Certainly, it’s a tribute to the players themselves, so acutely aware of space and tone – how and where they placed their notes – but the room was an exquisite vessel, giving perfect reflection and absorbtion to every blast, scratch, and flutter.
I was also impressed by the whole program – the pacing, the set order, the way the evening’s music unfolded – beginning with Buffalo Collision, the free jazz improvisational quartet – drawing us into their world of intense listening and spontaneous, intuitive creation. Particularly King and cellist Hank Roberts also add a real flair for gesture, their bodies convulsing and twisting out their notes and textures. The BC set set the tone for watching an ensemble interact and react and relate to each other – to build something collectively from nothing, but with so much trust and intention – playing as a quartet, but more often as trios and duets – players dropping out and listening, waiting for the right moment to add something. Particularly Ethan’s gorgeous comped extended chords that were laid in so delicately at perfect moments, shifting the weight and dispersing the intensity of the melodic lines of sax and cello.
“Sea Sun Spot Run” was classic Happy Apple – perfect juxtaposition of “out” times and angular rhythms with sweet, lullaby progressions – the volume pedal fade ins of the keyboard line…. And the swirling, swelling final crescendo of loops & samples fading out perfectly. Happy Apple’s dynamics have always been so powerful – pure magic – to bring an audience into the quietest, most intimate and minimalist moments before or after bashing your head in with some heavy whirlwind.
As the night went on, the songs got shorter – the bad plus tunes had very brief solo sections as did the bad apple tunes, but they were so solid – and each tune was reduced to its essence, and I think it really helped keep the energy up – it was a long show but it never felt like it.
It is so much fun to watch the Bad Apple play those ornette tunes. such gleeful abandon. such muscle. such finesse.
Wendy Lewis – her harmonies with Reid’s singing on What Reason Could I Give were an instrument on par with those surrounding her. I wanted more of her voice. Was hoping there was a second encore planned….but the length of the show was really perfect. It felt like not only a celebration of Dave King, but of our whole community – so many great players – on stage and in the audience – and so much influence and inspiration that has circulated through our music scene over the past couple decades. King spoke of the Walker’s role in his own development – exposing him to new worlds and sounds – and I know that for me personally, Happy Apple has been an immeasurable influence and inspiration – as players, composers, performers, and as people.
can’t wait for the second show….