Dave King Trucking Company: Good Old Light

Photo: Joe Johnson

Bad Plus drummer Dave King is no stranger to the art of side projects. His latest band is, all in all, not bad.

Dave King Trucking Company

Good Old Light

Label: Sunnyside
US Release Date: 2011-07-12
Label website

While Ethan Iverson may do all of the talking between songs at Bad Plus shows, I've always had the impression that the contemporary jazz trio were more democratic than that. Pianist Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King have divvied up their compositional contributions pretty evenly over time, so it's not surprising that they all had solo projects in which to dump their surplus of extra material. Happy Apple, the Bad Plus' brother trio of sorts, was one such outlet for King to further his writing and drumming. Last year, he released Indelicate, a collection of 12 originals that showcased his drumming and piano skills. After its release, Iverson wrote a blog post reminding King that he was not the pianist for the Bad Plus (Don't worry, it was kind of a joke).

King has now formed a new band with tenor sax badasses Chris Speed and Brandon Wozniak, guitarist Erik Fratzke, and bassist Adam Linz, and he's dubbed the project The Dave King Trucking Company. King wrote seven of the eight songs on this debut album, Good Old Light, and the results are surprisingly varied. Some of it has less to do with traditional jazz than even the Bad Plus, which can already be quite the stretch for more conservative-minded listeners. The first track, though it is not indicative of the album's overall sound, gives a hint that this is no ordinary side project. "April in Gary" is played on what sounds like a prepared piano (King is the only one with piano credits), perusing a desolate scale in search of some conclusion. If I were to take a wild guess, I'd say that this piece pits the image of one of the nicest months of the year against one of the most depressed cities in America. The next song, "You Can't Say 'Poem in Concrete,'" gets Speed and Wozniak into the picture, but the song is definitely treated more as a symmetrical pop song than arty jazz. Dave King's drum fills are bafflingly basic, and Fratzke's harmonic interaction with the saxophonists is absolute easy street.

After that, the post-bop signposts are more frequent, occasionally steering the Trucking Company towards rockier territory. "I Am Looking for Strength" and the Erik Fratzke original "Tram" sound like they could have come from the Rudy Van Gelder days of rapid-fire ride cymbals and puncturing horn lines. Then he trades it all for a solitary, bluesy feeling on the loopy "Payphone" and the near-lullaby reflections of "Church Clothes w/ Wallet Chain." The oddball truly worth taking away from Good Old Light is "Hawk Over Traffic." While King pushes the backbeat with a head full of steam, the rest of the band comes and goes in a seemingly unnatural pattern. Again, taking a stab in the dark here, this could be the hawk sitting on a lamppost waiting to swoop down for its lunch at a moment that only the hawk can predict. Tension is established; vamps are staked; solos abound. In the last two-plus minutes of its ten-minute length, Chris Speed and Brandon Wozniak repeat a descending figure as King and the rest steadily fade out. And then they play it again. And again. And when you swear it's the last time, they play it again.

The album ends with a song that sounds like a final song, in sound and in title. "The Road Leads Home" is another excursion that turns its back on conventional jazz but still embraces the normal, pleasant ideas of harmony and form. It's a nice balance, one that can easily get overshadowed today due to the music's lack of theatrics. But no way will that stop a guy like Dave King. If you wanted a beefed-up version of Happy Apple, have a bite.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.