Jun 7 2016
On their newest recording, the Dave King Trucking Company has undergone a slight transformation, but one that resonates awfully damn strong. It’s not that their previous two recordings didn’t dish out decent melodies, but the quintet did leave them at the mercy of rhythmic outbursts and a method of delivery that emphasized music’s ability to draw a little bit of blood. The music was rough around the edges, though crafted with an artisan’s touch, and the melodies either sank or swam in that environment. But on Surrounded By The Night, the tempos and the delivery are simply tools to cultivate concise, powerful melodies.
“Delta Kreme” booms the melody out at times, but it still has the gentle touch of a satisfied sigh. It’s breathed out slowly and allowed to just float in the air undisturbed before the process is repeated over again. And a tune like “Parallel Sister Track,” which displays some of the sharp edges of past recordings, it delivers the melody with an unhurried patience that counterbalances the song’s rougher characteristics. And perhaps most importantly, that melody stays front and center and never gives the impression it’s going anywhere or at the mercy of anything.
The tenor sax (and clarinet) of Chris Speed gets in synch with tenor saxophonist Brandon Wozniak like dance partners who often end up on opposite ends of the floor yet always possess a motion that complements one another. Of particular interest is the way drummer Dave King modulates the intensity of certain tunes by altering the frame that captures the contributions of guitarist Erik Fratzke and bassist Chris Morrissey, shifting its reception between a raw volatility and a pleasant chatter.
Also adding emphasis to the melodic radiance is that, for the most part, this is an album of up-tempo tunes. Tracks like “You Should Be Watching (Art) Films” are plenty talkative, and the way that contrasts with the pace of the melodies accentuates further the appealing casualness with which melodies are delivered. And adding a bit more differentiation are the jumbled “Blue Candy,” the anthemic “Glamour Shot,” and the swinging “That Isn’t Even Worth Selling,” which toe the line on the album’s cohesion while finding different ways to express it.
Want a before-picture to compare with? The band closes out the album with a shout-out to their previous recordings. “Don’t Be Suspect of a Gift” leads out with the melody, then pulls the rug out from under it and sets it adrift in tumultuous conditions. It signals the changes manifest on their newest album, and shines a light on how nice that turn of events shook out. Hopefully this isn’t a one-time thing, because it’s a side of the band that is likely to continue paying dividends.
Your album personnel: Dave King (drums, cymbals), Erik Fratzke (electric guitar), Chris Morrissey (acoustic bass), Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet) and Brandon Wozniak (tenor sax).
Released on Sunnyside Records.
Listen to more album tracks on the Sunnyside Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Minneapolis, MN scene.