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The Dope and The Ghost commences with Joe Fonda's retro, beatnik style walking bass lines and the artists' President Bush-bashing in front of a Viennese audience on "BushWacked. The political component sets the tone for the band's progressive jazz and improvisational forays. The members orate a denouncement for seemingly every policy that the President has put in place, setting high expectations for when the musical festivities would kick in. And the sparks really do fly when the band gets down to business.
This quartet outing highlights the integration of hyper-mode phrasings, torrid exchanges and judicious placement of melodically-tinged themes. They fuse a sweetener into the mix, and it all pans out rather effectively. But trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr.'s abysmally off-key vocals at the onset of "Where Has My Father Gone?, segues into a wailing cutting session with saxophonist Mark Whitecage and drummer Lou Grassi's relentless polyrhythmic attack. Here, the band morphs angstperhaps the political elementwith a jubilant melody line that generates a sonorous touch amid the musicians' fiery exchanges. Then, on the finale, "Next Step, the ensemble, featuring guest artist/alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi, executes a stewing framework, accelerated by rambunctious cat-and-mouse dialogues via a frenetic gait. However, they tone the proceedings down a bit for the coda.
Putting a few beefs aside, the instrumentalists' stylistic mode of operation and intuitive interplay cannot be understated. These seasoned modern jazz warriors exalt a hodgepodge of emotively-charged and revved-up undercurrents that yield the winning edge.
Track Listing: BushWacked; Where Has My Father Gone?; The Dope and The Ghost; Next Step.
Personnel: Roy Campbell Jr: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Mark Whitecage: alto sax, clarinet, newspeak; Joe Fonda: bass; Lou Grassi: drums, percussion. Guest: Marco Eneidi: alto sax (4).
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.