One evening is not sufficient to showcase the varied talents, consummate showmanship, and genre-defying innovations of Dave King, one of the most prolific jazz/rock percussionists of his generation. King has rounded up his cohorts from the Twin Cities and New York—plus some surprise guests, musical and otherwise—to help put on the music parties of the season at the Walker Art Center. The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 12, with a concert featuring Buffalo Collision, The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, and The Bad Apple. The Saturday, March 13, program features band debuts by Golden Valley Is Now and Dave King Trucking Company. Both concerts begin at 8 pm in the McGuire Theater. “I wanted two distinct experiences,” King says. “Friday is for the groups I currently work with, the bands people know me best for. Saturday has some of the same crew changing roles and instruments, plus other musicians, to premiere two brand-new bands.”
Since founding Happy Apple with Michael Lewis and Eric Fratzke in 1996, King has put together and played in an ever-multiplying number of ensembles, forging a reputation as a free spirited adventurer—one also blessed with a rigorous virtuosity. His completely fresh approach to drumming and composition, not to mention dead-on delivery and playfully subversive style, has helped redefine the interplay between jazz and pop. Opening Friday’s show is Buffalo Collision, King’s band devoted to improvisation, with pianist Ethan Iverson, saxophonist Tim Berne, and cellist Hank Roberts. King recalls first seeing Berne and Roberts, legendary improvisers on the New York jazz scene, at a Walker performance in the 1980s: “I was a kid back then, and now Ethan and I are playing with those guys. It’s really a dream come true to be working with your idols.” Rounding out the evening is a rare performance by the Bad Apple, which fuses King’s super groups: the Grammy-nominated the Bad Plus (bassist Reid Anderson with Iverson and King) and Happy Apple. “It’s fantastic when both bands come together because we’ve all known each other for so long.”
Saturday’s first debut is Golden Valley Is Now, an instrumental, electronic-based outfit featuring keyboardist Craig Taborn and Anderson, who grew up with King in the eponymous suburb west of Minneapolis. “With this band we’re going back to our roots as passionate jazz improvisers,” says King. “The Walker was where we’d see everything. There were some out-of-control shows in the ‘80s, and we were these die-hard kids in the front row. That place played a huge role in how I chose what I wanted to do.”
Also debuting is the Dave King Trucking Company, a merger of sorts between roots and avant-garde music that has King joined by Happy Apple’s Fratzke on guitar, New York–based saxophonist Chris Speed, and bassist Adam Linz. A cover of “Convoy,” the anti-establishment trucking anthem and crossover hit from 1975, makes for a pitch-perfect finale: all of the “King for Two Days” players converge onstage, with King leading his various merry bands of musical pranksters down new highways.
Dave King was born in 1970 in Minnesota and is a founding member of the Bad Plus, Happy Apple, The Gang Font, and Halloween Alaska. He has also recorded or performed with Dewey Redman, Jeff Beck, Tim Berne, Hank Roberts, Craig Taborn, Dead Prez, Boots Riley, Atmosphere, Bill Carrothers, Dosh, Mason Jennings, Meat Beat Manifesto, Anthony Cox, Craig Green, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Tchad Blake, among others. He has composed for film (Tom Shroeders award-winning animated short film Bike Ride Story) and dance (Mark Morris’ Violet Cavern) as well as for three seasons of Isaac Mizrahi’s fashion week runway shows.
Tickets to King for Two Days: A Dave King Celebration are $40 ($36 Walker members) for both shows; $25 ($21) for a single show and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600. The Balcony Bar (which is moved to the Hennepin Lobby for these performances) will be open at 7 pm and after the performance.
Making Music with Dave King
Thursday, March 11, 8 pm
William and Nadine McGuire Theater
Free tickets available at the Hennepin Lobby desk from 7 pm
Legendary local percussionist Dave King meets host James Everest for a discussion about his penchant for messing with time signatures and the process of putting a unique Bad Plus stamp onto an album of cover songs. Copresented with mnartists.org and the University of Minnesota’s Whole Music Club.
This talk will be webcast live and archived on the Walker Channel, channel.walkerart.org.