The Nu Band: The Dope And The Ghost (2007)
Not easily pigeonholed, the music of The Nu Band negotiates the boundaries of free-bop, improvisation, chamber, and traditional jazz with bias toward none. That cannot be said of the band's politics. Giving no quarter to the current Bush administration, they take our 'king' to task from the opening notes of the disc's centerpiece"BushWhacked.
Saxophonist Mark Whitecage originally recorded BushWhacked: A Spoken Opera (Acoustics ELE, 2005), a Dubya denunciation with his Bi-Coastal Orchestra, a band he leads with his wife Rozanne Levine. The title track easily morphs into this new quartet setting. The 17-minute rant and response between players, is an update on the kind of political tirades you might have heard at a Charles Mingus concert in the late 1960s. Sung and spoken protest is delivered over the slow burning blues centered on the heavy vibe laid down by bassist Joe Fonda. The fireworks soon start, the players trade tirade for interplaymaking their pointnegotiating tightrope walking acrobatics and burning moments.
The next track "Where Has My Father Gone, at 16 minutes, was penned by trumpeter Roy Campbell for his recently deceased father. His muted trumpet opens the first three minutes. After he expresses grief, the band enters the procession with interlocking horns, before Campbell sings his tribute. The band swells into some very hip swinging changes over their brand of free-bop. This quartet can be heard on two prior sessions, Live At The Bop Shop (Clean Feed, 2001) and Nu Band (Konnex, 2003). Their interplay and cohesiveness is quite impressive. The dialogue they have for such a loosely assembled unit is anything but loose.
The final track adds saxophonist Marco Eneidi to the stage. The quiet opening leads into some intense three horn improvisation as drummer Lou Grassi fuels every exchange. The power displayed by Whitecage and Eneidi are surely enough to stop a war. Well, one can only hope.
Track Listing: BushWhacked; Where Has My Father Gone; The Dope And The Ghost; Next Stop.
Personnel: Roy Campbell, Jr.: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Mark Whitecage: alto saxophone, clarinet, newsspeak; Joe Fonda:bass; Lou Grassi: drums, percussion; Marco Eneidi: alto saxophone (track #4).