Porter

Consisting of Roy Campbell Jr. (trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn), Mark Whitecage (alto sax, clarinet), Joe Fonda (bass) and Lou Grassi (drums, percussion), the Nu Band is committed to the preservation of the roots of jazz as well as the extension of those traditions into a current idiom. Right from the opening title track we’re subjected to a statement of intent that’s crystal-clear: a theme that carves itself into your memory, and solos that range across the stylistic gamut, from neatly appropriate (Campbell) to semi-embittered (Whitecage) to coolly intellectual (Fonda). “Connecticut Solution” is built on a 5/4 riff and counterpoint, leaving plenty of room for the soloists, Campbell using the mute to make a tentative departure from the obviousness of certain registers, Whitecage responding with a musing serenity that indicate that his expressive range isn’t just limited to different types of haste, Fonda momentarily abandoning his obedient vamping to deliver a calm declaration of independence and Grassi bouncing away an unperturbed groove on the skins. The drummer is in even better shape during his brisk solo in “The Last of the Beboppers”, while “Heavenly Ascending” – graced by Fonda’s masterful arco playing – is possibly the most austere track on offer, though it shows a resounding loyalty to lyricism, Whitecage’s harried alto notwithstanding. These are the pinnacles of an album that, even if not really resplendent in divergence (as Robert Fripp would have it), definitely sets the quality bar satisfyingly high.

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