Various Artists: No W... Now! (2004)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In the interests of full disclosure, it should be stated that No W... Now! is an expressly political CD. It is subtitled "A Musical Petition Against George W. Bush," and proceeds from its sale go to the liberal organization Not In Our Name. While this reviewer has liberal politics, it is fair and appropriate that this review will concern itself entirely with the music.

Not everything here is jazz. Most of the music is what is loosely classified as the "downtown" school. There's some static, drone-based improvisation, such as the Unstable Ensemble's "Gob Wee Shrub." Elliott Sharp's "These Days" is a fascinating construct of extended guitar techniques and laptop-generated sound. On the other hand, there's "Hey George," an obscenity-laced bit of punk rock.

The jazz performances here are free or fusion, and they're mostly very good. The rubato deconstruction of "Study War No More" by R. Ruzow's Subterraneans brims with agony, beauty, and excellent ensemble playing. "The March Of The Fourth Reich" by the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is aggressive, ominous fusion. Jack Wright's "There's No Music Like No Music" is an unaccompanied soprano sax solo, full of unpredictable lines and sounds that slowly but surely draw the committed listener in to a heartfelt core.

The rest of the music varies widely in genre and quality, and includes some protest songs composed for this recording, some electronica, and a bit more free jazz. Because No W... Now! is tied in with a liberal advocacy group, and because the views of Not In Our Name do not necessarily represent those of All About Jazz (or this reviewer's, entirely), it's hard to recommend this one without serious reservations. There isn't a lot of jazz on it, and some tracks are crude or uneventful, but if you're a devotee of downtown music in all its diversity and you sympathize with the goals of Not In Our Name, then by all means check it out.

Visit Passive Aggressive Records on the web.

Track Listing: Post Cold War Guilt Song, Study War No More, My Country, The March Of The Fourth Reich, These Days, Illuminated, Rhrr, Let Running Dog Imperialists Lie, There's No W In President, No Fair, There's No Music Like No Music, Hey George, Excerpt from "Thomas Paine", Gob Wee Shrub, A Poem Of Change, Turkeys In Texas.

Personnel: Andrew Elliott, vocal; Roger Ruzow, trumpet; Neil Starkey, bass; Jamie Shepard, percussion; The Sleepwalker, guitar, vocals; Reed Mathis, bass; Brian Haas, electric piano; Jason Smart, drums; Elliott Sharp, guitar, laptop; Newpoetic; Scott Rosenberg, baritone sax; Tom Surgal, percussion; Lin Culbertson, keyboards; Brady Sansone, guitar, tape recorder; Kyle Bruckmann, organ, vocals; Kurt Johnson, bass; Philip Montoro, drums; Mark Stevens, drums; Jack Wright, soprano sax; Threat Language; Loren Connors, guitar; Neel Murgai, guitar; Andrew Burnes, piano; Marty Belcher, tenor sax; Jason Bivins, guitar; Joe Donnelly, baritone sax; Matt Griffin, percussion; Eric Weddle, electronics; Pauline Oliveros, accordion, electronics, vocal; Lea Jones, guitar, vocal.

Style: Fringes of Jazz

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