181

Whitecage/Campbell/Fonda/Grassi: The Nu Band Live

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Whitecage/Campbell/Fonda/Grassi: The Nu Band Live Live recordings are the next best thing to being there, and The Nu Band Live is a blistering "set made up of tracks from three different days (three out of the five performances come from the same day). The premise of the set is to present the period before, during, and after 9/11 in music. Needless to say, the music is very emotional, and at times it can be frightening. Stylistically, this quartet can easily be compared to The Fringe in that there's a lot of freedom within an atmosphere of close listening and cooperation. The first three tracks each refer to the same theme or vamp, which is melodically and harmonically simple, allowing for maximum freedom to move away from and come back to it.

"Like A Spring Day implies the perfect weather of a September day. The hard boppish theme produces a feeling of the natural bounce of walking down the street. The pulse comes and goes; drummer Lou Grassi is superb and always busy. Mark Whitecage has a huge, forceful sound that gets more emotional as he goes, with Grassi following. The theme reappears and then bassist Joe Fonda plays an amazing bowed solo with harmonics, until the drums start making sounds underneath and the bass starts growling ominously, implying danger.

"Ballad of 9-11 starts off with soft percussion, low bowed bass, and what sounds like flute (although no one is credited for that instrument): the calm before the storm. Roy Campbell takes a solo on flugelhorn as a regular beat and bass vamp start. The softness of the flugelhorn is very effective as it floats above the soft repeated bass and drum figures, creating tension. The intensity gradually builds as Grassi plays a straight-driving deep rhythm while Campbell plays mournful plunger mute. Whitecage now takes up the theme, clearly projecting danger ahead.

Then Grassi explodes, creating a towering wall of sound that he maintains for seven unbelievable minutes while Whitecage and Campbell play a rising line; Grassi keeps the tsunami ever rising, then crashing in his solo. This is simply an extraordinary display of stamina and intensity, brought to a sudden stop and leading to "Prayer, Contemplation and Meditation, which references "Autumn Leaves." The peace, sadness, and calm mixed with desolation are quite dramatic after what has just transpired.

One might ask whether the music stands on its own without the "program notes." My answer would be yes, despite the fact that you cannot un-ring the bell. As individuals, Whitecage, Campbell, Fonda, and Grassi take chances and lay themselves out there, but they are always listening to each other. The proceedings have a structure that can only come from rehearsal and the band members knowing and trusting each other. Words like exciting and dramatic hardly describe this music's overall effect. Put this on and be prepared to be swept away.


Track Listing: Like a Spring Day; Ballad of 9-11; End Piece; Prayer, Contemplation and Meditation; Four of Them.

Personnel: Mark Whitecage: saxophones, clarinet, flute?; Roy Campbell, Jr.: trumpet; Joe Fonda: bass; Lou Grassi: drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Konnex Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Sizzle" CD/LP/Track Review Sizzle
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Music Of Jackie McLean" CD/LP/Track Review The Music Of Jackie McLean
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 6, 2016
Read "Oratorios and Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Oratorios and Songs
by John Eyles
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Come Together" CD/LP/Track Review Come Together
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 25, 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!

Buy it!