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Mark Whitecage & The Bi-Coastal Orchestra: BushWacked

Mark Corroto By

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It may be true that the "eye of the needle Jesus spoke of in the gospels has been widened by our current President Bush to allow for CEOs to drive their SUVs straight into heaven, but they won't, and they cannot, motor with their windows open as the voices of opposition grow louder. Such is the message from Mark Whitecage, saxophonist and leader of the Bi-Coastal Orchestra. Like recent recordings from Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra and the Chicago Underground Trio, Whitecage intends to take on the current administration head-on with his own protest music.

The saxophonist has been most recently heard as a member of The Nu Band with Roy Campbell, Jr., Lou Grassi, and Joe Fonda on Clean Feed and Konnex. His saxophone work is a very grounded free-bop sound that has been well documented on Cadence's CIMP label. Together with his wife, clarinetist Rozanne Levine, he has played as part of the New Reed Quartet, Chakra Tuning, and RoMARKABLE.

The majority of the tracks are dominated by the reading of texts over the music. The voices choose newspaper articles, political quotes, parts of the Declaration of Independence, and Christian "hate" speech. This common poetic device sheds an alternative light on the state of our imbalanced union. While the vocal deliveries aren't polished, their message is clear. The band provides often off-balance music spiked to give the words a bit more kick—the squeal of the saxophone, the humor of a ragtime piano riff, the dusting of a cymbal. Outside and in, the Koyaanisqatsi-ish sounds highlight the out-of-whack state that BushWacked has gotten us into.

The wordless fourteen-minute track "Follow The Money allows listeners to concentrate on the pure music-making. Opening with the underwater sounds of Scott Steele's guitar, the track edges into a compelling blues interlude before a searing saxophone solo and a bit of wandering before swinging end, complete with the electric noodling of Steele's underwater guitar.

As the emperor's approval ratings drop, Mark Whitecage's certainly begin to soar.

Visit Mark Whitecage on the web.

Track Listing: In Our Name; 0 For 5000; Follow The Money; Jesus; Who

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

Title: BushWacked | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: W.E.R.F.

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