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Mark Whitecage: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera

Judith Insell By

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Mark Whitecage: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera BushWacked takes a bold political stand, presenting a feeling through each track of anger, outrage and distrust of George W. Bush and his political regime. Joining Whitecage (alto sax and clarinet) are the members of the Bi-Coastal Orchestra: Rozanne Levine (alto and soprano clarinets), Bill Larimer (piano), Robert Mahaffay (drums) and Scott Steele (guitar), all of whom appear throughout as presenters of the spoken word material.

The CD takes its text from news media excerpts (The Nation, Harper's and The Progressive Populist) and lyrics written in 1992 by Jeanne Lee, adapted for Whitecage's composition "BushWacked and presented in an almost "singspiel" vocal style of text and lyrics in a very free-form setting. Most of the music is performed in a free jazz style with no clear structure, excluding "Jesus, a short gospel blues segment. Likewise, the spoken word portions have no clear rhythmic form, appearing mostly over the music without any clear rhythmic relationship.

Levine's voice, which appears on "In Our Name and "Who's the War For?, has an off-putting quality, a weathered sound weak in tone; and Larimer's intentionally out-of-tune singing on "Who's the War For? doesn't quite connect with the feel of the swing style backing music that accompanies him. The solely spoken word "Fugue," however, interestingly utilizes words as they become fugal subjects. And the final track, "Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me, provides a final commentary comprised solely of instrumental improvisation, as if words simply weren't sufficient to reflect the populace of this group's anger and message.

The disc itself is of a rough, raw, unmixed recording that was clearly made in a basement studio—possibly an intentional effect—thus giving the product a grass roots feel.

Track Listing: In Our Name; 0 for 5000; Follow the Money; Jesus; Who's the War For?; Fugue; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me.

Personnel: Mark Whitecage: alto saxophone, Bb clarinet; Scott Steele: guitar; Bill Larimer: piano; Rozanne Levine: alto and soprano clarinet; Robert Mahaffay: drums.

Title: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera | Year Released: 2006


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