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  • [applause]

  • James: Thanks, everybody. Thanks for coming down.

  • Dave King: Thank you. [sighs] Is this far enough away? I wore this scarf to hold onto

  • my microphone.

  • James: Yeah. It looks very styling.

  • Dave: Well, checks and stripes is very sheik. So, I read in "Cosmopolitan." I read a lot

  • of "Cosmopolitan."

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: Because I'm in the airport, I read "Cosmopolitan." "What Women Like," I read that article all

  • the time.

  • [laughter]

  • James: What do they like?

  • Dave: This, the exact thing, right here.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: White pants, some form of check.

  • James: And stripes.

  • Dave: And stripes.

  • James: Horizontal stripes.

  • Dave: Horizontal. Are you kidding me?

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: White pants, they don't like. Women don't like white pants because they feel that

  • it puts the man in the position of power.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: Like the captain's chair. So, I wore these to create tension.

  • [laughter]

  • James: So, five years ago, you did this Making Music show...

  • [laughter]

  • James: I guess, feeling a little tense out there. I can't see anything.

  • [laughter]

  • James: [laughing] I'm being drawn into the light.

  • Dave: [laughs]

  • James: All right. So, five years ago, you did Making Music with us. We did our usual

  • Making Music. We heard all about the first songs you ever wrote and how you got into

  • music, your creative process.

  • And now, to have you back here, five years later, we thought, let's do version 2.0, where

  • we're going to talk specifically about these new collaborations that you're entering into

  • here, and these new projects. But, we've got a whole weekend of stuff coming up, and some

  • projects that have been around for a long time - Happy Apple, The Bad Plus - and some

  • projects that have never performed live at all, no music recorded released.

  • Dave: Right.

  • James: But, let's start, tomorrow night, do you want to talk a little bit about, tomorrow,

  • a Friday night show, what people can expect?

  • Dave: Well, there's a saying, "Friday night is all right for fighting." You ever heard

  • that?

  • James: Yeah.

  • Dave: Why did I say that? Saturday night is for lovers. That's the theme, basically, for

  • the two nights. Friday, what I'm doing this weekend, you mean? I thought I'd come down

  • here for a few nights and play the drums.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: Well, tomorrow night, an improvised-music collective, I mean, called Buffalo Collision,

  • which is based in New York, is coming in. I guess it should just be called a band. I

  • don't know why I call it an improvisational collective. That's the Walker, making me feel

  • like I have to categorize things like that. But, doing it gently to me, though. They're

  • not being forceful with their terminology. It's always a very gentle atmosphere here.

  • But, you have to up your game a little bit here. I can't say, "It's our band. My band's

  • coming in." I can't say that.

  • That's a good photo of us right there.

  • James: It'll come up later...

  • Dave: I thought that was a teleprompter.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: Buffalo Collision features the pianist of The Bad Plus, my good friend Ethan Iverson,

  • and then two real icons of American avant-garde music of the last 30 years, Hank Roberts,

  • the cellist, who is mostly known for his work with Bill Frisell, and Tim Berne.

  • James: Now, that is...

  • Dave: Yeah. The giant man next to me, a saxophonist. And we've been playing together for about

  • three or four years now, three years now. We made a record called "Duck," on Tim's label,

  • Screwgun Records, a few years ago. We actually just came back from Europe a few days ago.

  • This band does a few tours a year and a few festival appearances here and there. It's

  • a great challenge, because it's a band that has no written music. So, every concert is

  • a starting point and an ending point, and everything is improvised.

  • James: How did it come together? What was the idea?

  • Dave: The history of the four of us, I should say that Tim and Hank actually grew up in

  • this area, and Tim and Hank I would see periodically here at the Walker in the '80s. In my formal

  • years as an improviser, they were super-important to me. So, to get to be playing with them

  • now, even to see Tim Berne with his arm around me, I'm getting very choked up here. Look

  • at how big he is.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: I mean, look at that. He caught me looking at my reflection in the window of a train

  • about a week ago, and he walked by me on the train and he said, "You care about your image,

  • don't you?" That's what he said to me and walked away. And I said, "Yeah, I do."

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: I met Tim because he started to come see Happy Apple in New York, when Happy Apple

  • started to kind of gain a following outside the Twin Cities. We were playing New York

  • pretty regularly.

  • [referring mic] Is this still good? I think it shifted.

  • Dave: Tim came to see us play at John Zorn's club, called Tonic. And we really kind of

  • hit it off. He ended up liking the gig, and he ended up kind of being a word-of-mouth

  • Happy Apple supporter. And we would have lunch when I'd be in New York or hang out.

  • We actually didn't play together for a few years. We just were friendly with each other.

  • I would see him play, or he'd see me play. And then we started to have little duet sessions

  • at his apartment in New York. We'd just go up into his workroom. Which, actually, the

  • cover of the "Duck" - the record we made is called "Duck." I don't know if that image

  • is here, but that's his studio, that kind of messed-looking, disheveled shelves and

  • things. He's got this drum set up there. We just played saxophone-drum duets for a few

  • hours at a time.

  • And then Ethan and I started talking about maybe we should try and incorporate Tim into

  • some project of real free music. Which is what Tim essentially does. He writes these

  • long-form compositions and then does totally free improvising. And he was really into it.

  • And actually, the first few shows of this band were with the viola master, Mat Maneri.

  • I don't know if anyone's familiar with some of this kind of music, but Mat is really brilliant,

  • son of Joe Maneri, the great micro-tonal professor who just recently died, recently passed. He

  • was a New England Conservatory micro-tonal professor, like a genius, and his son is clearly

  • that, too.

  • Anyway, he ended up doing a few shows but then couldn't tour with us. There was some

  • stuff going on with him, and we ended up getting the replacement, Hank Roberts, who is basically

  • the most renowned improvised-music cellist in the world. And he's such a beautiful guy.

  • That shows his spirit right there, the way he looks in that photo. They're both like

  • 6-10. Look at Ethan and I, man. It just heightens our squatty, Midwestern bloodlines, man. Look

  • at those two healthy gazelles of free jazz, and look at...

  • James: Ethan's standing in that picture.

  • Dave: Ethan's standing on a box in that photo.

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: [laughs] And look at these cheese-eating, Doritos people. [laughs]

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: We're just like, [laughs] "Chips ahoy!"

  • [laughter]

  • Dave: Anyway. [laughs] We ended up playing one of our first gigs here, in the Twin Cities.

  • We did some festival appearances and then a couple shows in New York, and then Hank's

  • first show with the band was at the Dakota, like three years ago. Two and a half years

  • ago, we played the Dakota two nights. Anyway. That was a long answer.

  • James: OK. So, Buffalo Collision. Going into that project, have you guys had conversations

  • about how you want that to happen?

  • Dave: What happens? No. In fact, there is never a discussion about music, never. Which

  • is kind of unbelievable, but we don't discuss the music. We discuss other music sometimes,

  • on the road or whatever, but there's never a discussion about the rule, how long we're

  • going to play, how long any piece is going to be, never a discussion. Which is really

  • freeing, and also, it can be exhausting.

  • I've had my most exhaustive moments touring with this band. Halfway through this last

  • tour I was on, I was phoning friends, asking for support. I mean, to be honest with you,

  • it sounds dramatic, but it's like you're very under-slept, and then there's this improvising,

  • it's on such a high level. And I don't mean that because I'm involved, but I mean it's

  • really high level because of these great masters, you know.

  • You can't want to make music happen with it. You've got to know when to let the moment

  • to appear, and you've got to allow for failure, and you've got to allow for searching. And

  • those things are difficult, you know. You can feel like you have to steer this thing

  • out of the minefield we're in now, and that's the wrong attitude. You've really got to lay

  • back and let things happen.

  • Oftentimes when you feel that things aren't going well, you've got to remember that that's

  • usually the moment, if you hear the recording back, that's usually the strongest moment.

  • So, you've got to get your head out of that moment. And that's difficult, if you're on

  • four or five hours sleep for five or six nights in a row; and people are there showing up

  • to hear some great music, and you've got no music.

  • You've got to make some music for someone. I keep dropping the name of your show here,

  • [laughs] make music. But, it's just so overwhelmingly heavy that when it really happens, there are

  • moments in shows that are so beautiful, and so heavy, and everyone knows it. It's so deep

  • to come off stage and just be like, "What was that?" We'd all look at each other and

  • laugh, and then it's just back to the hotel, and finding out what type of porn is on.

  • [laughter]

  • James: So, [laughs and clears throat] one of the features of this weekend is that, you've

  • got these bands tomorrow. Besides Buffalo collision, you've got Happy Apple, and The

  • Bad Plus, which you've been playing in for years and years. And you've got these longstanding

  • relationships of composing music, and performing with those guys. But then, we've got these

  • projects this weekend, which are taking those members of those bands, and putting them into

  • these new projects in a different dynamic.

  • So, in this case with Ethan you guys, how is that dynamic different? In terms of performing

  • with Ethan, has it brought anything new to your interplay with each other, or having

  • these other things?

  • Dave: That's a good question, if anything is strengthens the bond between Ethan and

  • I, because we are very connected. Obviously musically, The Bad Plus, one of the strengths

  • of the band is that it is a deeply connected personal band. We're very old friends, and

  • we also leave a lot of room for each other being different, we're very different from

  • each other.

  • But, Ethan is such a genius, and such a great inspiration. To me, he's really one of the

  • greatest musicians