The Dave King Trio At Ace Gillett’s
A History Including The Bad Plus…And Then Some
Like many jazz fans, my first exposure to modern jazz drummer Dave King was when one of his long-time bands, The Bad Plus, exploded onto the scene with their Columbia album, “These Are the Vistas.” Stodgier critics weren’t sure what to make of this group, while younger fans immediately latched on to their cleverly deconstructed covers of Blondie and Nirvana tunes, Bombastic originals and edgy contrasts of dynamic improvisation, all while sounding like a tried and true “Band.” They didn’t sound like any other jazz groups, and their sound was new, fresh and authentic.
Dave has kept himself extremely busy in the years that followed working with his own groups Happy Apple, Halloween Alaska, Love Cars and the Gang Font (with Greg Norton from Husker Du) among many others. His “Rational Funk” videos on YouTube are legendary, poking fun at the instructional video genre while still providing tons of musical insight (and a healthy dose of laughs as well). I had my first opportunity to see Dave with his namesake Trio at the legendary Green Mill in Chicago in May of 2017. The Green Mill consistently features top-notch jazz acts and I was elated to happen to be in town on a night when Dave was performing. Anticipation was high as Dave, bassist Billy Peterson and pianist Bruce Barth opened their set with a whisper quiet, achingly slow version of Billy Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group.” The Green Mill can often be a raucous place (even though they ask the audience to remain quiet during performances), but tonight you could hear a pin drop as they delicately weaved their way through the opening number, with Dave’s subtle brush work striking a supreme contrast to what I had expected to hear from him, based on some of the more gregarious recordings I’d heard from The Bad Plus.
Dave’s Unique Set
Dave coaxes more sounds out of 4 drums, 3 cymbals and a set of Hi-hats than many drummers do on kits three times the size. I was especially intrigued by the sound of his left-side ride cymbal that night….so much so that I walked up to take a closer look at it on their set-break, noting to myself that it appeared to be a 1940’s, Transition-badge Avedis Zildjian….And that it had several chunks of metal missing from it as well as numerous, holes, rivets and other repair attempts to keep the cracks from spreading. The cymbal sounded delicate and beautiful, belying its’ rather rough appearance (see the photo I took). Before they started their second set, I asked Dave about it and we geeked-out about vintage cymbals for a few minutes (as jazz drummers often do).
How The Dave King Trio At Ace Gillett’s Came To Be
When Chris Weller from Big Fish Booking reached out to me a couple of months ago to see if we’d be interested in featuring the Dave King Trio at Ace Gillett’s, I shared my Chicago Green Mill experience with him as I enthusiastically said I would love for us to figure out a way to make this show happen. As it turns out, Chris was at the same show in Chicago that night! (small jazz world). For all of you Ace regulars, you know that we don’t typically do ticketed concerts, but this is an opportunity we couldn’t let pass us by. Dave will be joined at Ace Gillett’s on Thursday, 12/20 by pianist Matt Mitchell and bassist Billy Peterson. Don’t miss the chance to see artists of this caliber in the intimate setting of Mantz Hall at Ace Gillett’s. Reserved seats at tables are available for your best views of the group, with General Admission tickets available as well.
I hope to see you there,
Ace Gillett’s Lounge