223

Mark Whitecage: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Whitecage: BushWacked: A Spoken Opera 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.

Year Released: 2006 | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Dreamsville CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read April CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Small World CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read High Time CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Lovers" CD/LP/Track Review Lovers
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "A Good Time Was Had By All" CD/LP/Track Review A Good Time Was Had By All
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Brass Tactics" CD/LP/Track Review Brass Tactics
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "Music Box Music" CD/LP/Track Review Music Box Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!