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Dave King Trucking Company 

When: Wed., June 4, 9:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $12
Before he earned widespread fame as the drummer for the Bad Plus, Dave King was a fixture on the 90s Minneapolis alt-rock scene, playing in bands such as Love-Cars, 12 Rods, and the Gang Font (with Husker Du bassist Greg Norton). He’s not playing postpunk anymore, but he hung on to its extroversion and aggression when he started spending more time with jazz—with most of the projects he’s joined since then, he’s taken a raucous, high-energy approach. In his quintet the Dave King Trucking Company, his ferocious drumming drives the tunes and adds a prankish, complacency-rattling vibe (a la Han Bennink). Sometimes his composition style is equally disruptive: on “I Will Live Next to the Wrecking Yard,” which opens the band’s terrific second album, last year’s Adopted Highway (Sunnyside), King gleefully pushes and pulls at the tempo, seemingly at will, but it’s actually all charted out. The front-line interactions of saxophonists Chris Speed and Brandon Wozniak give the music a postbop flavor, but it’s the hard, knotty rhythm section (with bassist Adam Linz) that dominates the tone, often setting sharp corners against the smoother shapes of the horns. Guitarist Eric Fratzke, who plays bass in Happy Apple with King, uses a cheap old J.C. Penney electric here, and his distorted, corkscrewing lines add a wonderfully cockeyed angularity to the arrangements, bridging the jazzy horns and the rude grooves; his solos owe as much to Greg Ginn as they do to John McLaughlin. “This Is a Non-Lecture” opens as a gentle, pretty ballad, then falls into a seductively static section, where hushed cymbal patter and a single pulsing bass tone provide a backdrop for an extended, minimalist solo by Fratzke, combining acidic harmonic splatter, controlled feedback, and laconic shards of melody; finally it concludes with a lovely processional that enlists the whole combo. The music reflects King’s brash personality, but it’s not all about aggression and genre collisions—beneath its sometimes unkempt and graceless surfaces, it has an intelligence and substance, and the contrast between them makes the players’ finesse and skill hit that much harder. —Peter Margasak

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