Whitecage/Campbell/Fonda/Grassi: The Nu Band Live (2005)
"Like A Spring Day implies the perfect weather of a September day. The hard boppish theme produces a feeling of the natural bounce of walking down the street. The pulse comes and goes; drummer Lou Grassi is superb and always busy. Mark Whitecage has a huge, forceful sound that gets more emotional as he goes, with Grassi following. The theme reappears and then bassist Joe Fonda plays an amazing bowed solo with harmonics, until the drums start making sounds underneath and the bass starts growling ominously, implying danger.
"Ballad of 9-11 starts off with soft percussion, low bowed bass, and what sounds like flute (although no one is credited for that instrument): the calm before the storm. Roy Campbell takes a solo on flugelhorn as a regular beat and bass vamp start. The softness of the flugelhorn is very effective as it floats above the soft repeated bass and drum figures, creating tension. The intensity gradually builds as Grassi plays a straight-driving deep rhythm while Campbell plays mournful plunger mute. Whitecage now takes up the theme, clearly projecting danger ahead.
Then Grassi explodes, creating a towering wall of sound that he maintains for seven unbelievable minutes while Whitecage and Campbell play a rising line; Grassi keeps the tsunami ever rising, then crashing in his solo. This is simply an extraordinary display of stamina and intensity, brought to a sudden stop and leading to "Prayer, Contemplation and Meditation, which references "Autumn Leaves." The peace, sadness, and calm mixed with desolation are quite dramatic after what has just transpired.
One might ask whether the music stands on its own without the "program notes." My answer would be yes, despite the fact that you cannot un-ring the bell. As individuals, Whitecage, Campbell, Fonda, and Grassi take chances and lay themselves out there, but they are always listening to each other. The proceedings have a structure that can only come from rehearsal and the band members knowing and trusting each other. Words like exciting and dramatic hardly describe this music's overall effect. Put this on and be prepared to be swept away.
Track Listing: Like a Spring Day; Ballad of 9-11; End Piece; Prayer, Contemplation and Meditation; Four of Them.
Personnel: Mark Whitecage: saxophones, clarinet, flute?; Roy Campbell, Jr.: trumpet; Joe Fonda: bass; Lou Grassi: drums.
Record Label: Konnex Records
Style: Modern Jazz