Happy Apple

Part of the Solution Problem

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Melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas abound on this Minneapolis jazz trio's second album. All three members write, but drummer David King provides the album's most memorable melodies (and song titles). His "Are We Going Steady?" and "This Is Your Ghost Train" are subdued ballads that afford saxophonist Michael Lewis the opportunity to show off the sweeter side of his tone. Lewis' slowly building "Mom Got a New Davenport" is more a mood piece than a ballad. "The World Begins and Ends in Your Combover" -- another King tune -- is typical of the band's more daring performances. On "Combover," electric bassist Erik Fratzke maintains a steady bottom end, as busy drum patterns and shrill sax riffs oscillate around him until the tune's closing drum solo, which is no more than a cheap electronic keyboard's preprogrammed percussion track. Jazz traditionalists may not appreciate Happy Apple's humor and ironic winks, but the joke's on those who dismiss this band's accomplishments -- which include getting punk rockers and jam band followers to give contemporary jazz a listen.

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