The Nu Band | The Dope and The Ghost | Live in Vienna | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2007 | MW 788-2 | CD

Roy Campbell, Jr. – trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals –Mark Whitecage – alto saxophone, clarinet, newspeak | Joe Fonda – bass | Lou Grassi – drums | Marco Eneidi (Guest) – alto sax (track #4 only)

Recorded live at Porgy & Bess Jazz and Music Club, Vienna, Austria, January 27, 2005. Cover: computer image “The Dope” (c) 2006 by Mark Whitecage. Inside photos: Karen Tweedy-Holmes (Lou Grassi), Krzysztof Penarski (Roy Campbell), Rozanne Levine (Mark Whitecage), Bartosz Winiarski (Joe Fonda). Producer: Mark Whitecage. Executive producer: Marek Winiarski

Tracklist: 1. Bush Wacked (Music by Mark Whitecage; Lyrics by Jeanne Lee; newspeak from an article by Elaine Cassel) [17:08] 2. Where Has My Father Gone (Music by Roy Campbell, Jr.) [16:10] 3. The Dope and The Ghost (Music by Roy Campbell, Jr.) [19:10] 4. Next Step (Music by Joe Fonda) [20:37] Total Time: [72:54]

Newspeak for BushWacked

We are no longer looking forward to a fascist regime, we are in it. I predict there will be political prisoners before the year is out. The government may go bankrupt, which is what Bush seems to have planned. The head of the ERA, who called for more arsenic in our water and mercury in our air, is going to be the head of our health care. The man (Alberto Gonzales), who believes in no law is going to be Attorney General.

The American people have spoken – they want this fool in power. If Americans have no health care, no jobs, well, so be it. They gave it up for their King. Like the French revolution in reverse, idiotic Americans said, “Here, take our children to war and kill them, blow off their limbs. Take my job and send it to China. Take my health care and we will rely on your healing power to make us well. Let the pharmaceutical industry run the PDA. Take away our rights to sue corrupt corporations and negligent doctors and do not allow us to hold anyone accountable for all the harm you, your administration, and the big guns that elected you, are doing to our air, our water, and our bodies. Continue to leave all children behind with your stupid No Child Left Behind Law.

And while you’re at it, take our social security and give it to Wall Street. Make the head of the ERA, (the agency that wants more arsenic in our water and greater mercury in our air), in charge of the country’s health.

Appoint the worst National Security Advisor in history as head of the State Department. Reappoint the leader of this debacle of a war for another term. Support him in his disdain for the troops.

After all George, you are the voice of God!!! — Excerpt from an article by Elaine Cassel

Mark Whitecage | Photo by Rozanne Levine

Formed as a collaborative venture in 2000

The Nu Band consisting of Mark Whitecage on alto saxophone and clarinet, Lou Grassi on drums, Roy Campbell on trumpet and flugelhorn and Joe Fonda on bass explores in a very interesting way the intersection of mainstream and free jazz. It is clear that the musicians have a great respect for the jazz tradition and use that as a springboard for their compositions and improvisations on this album. “Lower East Side Blues” opens the album with a strong and deep performance, with the soloing and ensemble playing marking a fertile and earthy feel . . . This was a well played and thoroughly enjoyable album of progressive jazz that is quite accessible. The music is both thoughtful and exciting and the musicians involved have a deep sense of the jazz tradition without being beholden to it. — Tim Niland. Music and More

. . . an excellent snapshot

of one day in the life of a quartet that’s taking the basic jazz elements of Swing, surprise, and imagination to make it all Nu again. It gets better each time around.” — Stuart Kremsky. Cadence

Roy Campbell Jr. | Photo by Krzysztof Penarski

The Dope and The Ghost

commences with Joe Fonda’s retro, beatnik style walking bass lines and the artists’ President Bush-bashing in front of a Viennese audience on “BushWacked. The political component sets the tone for the band’s progressive jazz and improvisational forays. The members orate a denouncement for seemingly every policy that the President has put in place, setting high expectations for when the musical festivities would kick in. And the sparks really do fly when the band gets down to business.

This quartet outing highlights the integration of hyper-mode phrasings, torrid exchanges and judicious placement of melodically-tinged themes. They fuse a sweetener into the mix, and it all pans out rather effectively. But trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr.’s abysmally off-key vocals at the onset of “Where Has My Father Gone?, segues into a wailing cutting session with saxophonist Mark Whitecage and drummer Lou Grassi’s relentless polyrhythmic attack. Here, the band morphs angst—perhaps the political element—with a jubilant melody line that generates a sonorous touch amid the musicians’ fiery exchanges. Then, on the finale, “Next Step, the ensemble, featuring guest artist/alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi, executes a stewing framework, accelerated by rambunctious cat-and-mouse dialogues via a frenetic gait. However, they tone the proceedings down a bit for the coda.

Putting a few beefs aside, the instrumentalists’ stylistic mode of operation and intuitive interplay cannot be understated. These seasoned modern jazz warriors exalt a hodgepodge of emotively-charged and revved-up undercurrents that yield the winning edge. — Glenn Astarita, AllAbout Jazz

Joe Fonda | Photo by Bartosz Winiarski

The Nu Band is something special.

Free free bop with a political message. On their last album they ended with it, on this one they start with it : a long blues-based romp called “Bushwacked”, with Roy Campbell “reciting” a newspaper article on President Bush’s administration and doubtful policies, and even if this kind of message tends to be tedious in musical settings, this one works well, because the four musicians change this blues into a high energy free jazz piece. The four are Roy Campbell on trumpet, Mark Whitecage on alto sax and clarinet, Joe Fonda on bass, Lou Grassi on drums. Marco Eneidi joins on alto on one – twenty minute long – track. And what can I say? These guys ARE free jazz. Each of them has played a major role in shaping what the genre is today, in showing new ways of expressing emotions and of jointly creating a superb listening experience by … well by listening to the other band members in the first place and then adding to it, enhancing it, pushing it further, creating new dialogues and phrases. This is music that is adventurous, emotional, but at times so tight, so interlocked, so on the same level, that it’s getting uncanny. But the greatest thing : it’s real fun too. The intensity! The interplay! The melodies! The emotions! The music! And indeed, something which can only work in front of a live audience.– Steph.blogspot

Lou Grassi | Photo by Karen Tweedy-Holmes

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One thought on “The Nu Band | The Dope and The Ghost | Live in Vienna | Not Two Records

  1. 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 interplay—making their point—negotiating 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.

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