All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

223

Mark Whitecage: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Whitecage and The Bi-Coastal Orchestra step up to the podium to deliver the statement of sanity many people have been waiting on for five years. BushWacked takes aim at the deadly dada debacle that has inexplicably passed for government and foreign policy in the United States since the turn of the millennium. Whitecage and company surgically remove the masks from the gibbering ninnies and the slow-brained zombies who support them, using texts built of incisive previously published commentaries and pertinent constitutional quotes recited against a musical backdrop that emphasizes free jazz, while including elements of a century of American popular music. Whitecage's broad stylistic background is well-represented by his ensemble, creating a lively listenable soundtrack equal to the seething passion in the composer's text.

Rozanne Levine intones the first oratorio, "In Our Name," with dramatic urgency, supported by the ensemble's growing forte. Scott Steele's slippery guitar gives the scenario's inherent unreality the appropriate wiggle. "0 for 5000" refers to former Attorney General John Ashcroft's inability to prosecute anybody, and pianist Bill Larimer takes the opportunity to play tasty New Orleans licks that escalate to Cecil Taylorisms. Not to be left out of the fun, the ensemble jumps into a hot free blow followed by spare, ghostly electronics. Robert Mahaffay gracefully rains drum kit, as he does beautifully on each track. Whitecage (alto sax) and Levine (clarinet) duo with Steele's rubbery guitar. A pertinent constitutional quote from Whitecage ends the piece.

Named for Deep Throat's most cogent phrase, the all-instrumental "Follow the Money" frees Whitecage to meditate on alto sax. A masterful statement ensues, followed by Larimer's atmospheric synth strings framing Levine's understated clarinet. Back on piano, Larimer's left hand initiates on off-kilter swing with Steele snaky on guitar. Levine and Whitecage again cross alto reeds to take it out. The group resurrects Jeanne Lee's still-relevant lyrics for "Who's the War For?" Levine and Whitecage blow fire and Larimer throws ivory gasoline. When it cools down, the reedists switch to higher pitched instruments and converse as birds.

This is not a newspaper set to music, but rather a quaint artifact of Jeffersonian Democracy involving an informed citizenry and open debate framed as art. At the beginning, Levine addresses the empty materialistic alienation that's brought us to this bleak point in our history: "I also feel the vacuum, the loneliness, the silence, the dehydration of the soul as people who want desperately to save our constitution, country and planet still wander the streets without even knowing how to say 'hi' to one another." Say hi to a clear picture of our shared predicament on BushWacked.


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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Sunlight CD/LP/Track Review
Sunlight
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "Donora Autumn" CD/LP/Track Review Donora Autumn
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Zea" CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Edge Detection" CD/LP/Track Review Edge Detection
by Doug Collette
Published: March 4, 2018
Read "Say" CD/LP/Track Review Say
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 30, 2018
Read "Parking Lot Symphony" CD/LP/Track Review Parking Lot Symphony
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 3, 2017