|Recorded live at The Bop Shop in Rochester, New York on January 26, 2001.
"Live performances always seem to bring out something special in musicians, and that is certainly in evidence on this session featuring trumpeter Roy Campbell, reed player Mark Whitecage, bassist Joe Fonda, and drummer Lou Grassi, who collectively call themselves the Nu Band. Their music starts quietly with probing investigations by Whitecage and Campbell, and then they open up all the vents and go full steam ahead. These mainstays of the New York scene, who typically do not work together, collaborate on four selections composed by band members. Two of these are extended sojourns where the additional time translates into a surplus of inventiveness. The music does not fall into the category of a romp. It is a well-conceived directional set of tunes that highlights the improvisational talents of the musicians and the motivational drive of the collective unit. This new amalgam of staunch artists dives into spirited playing on this date. The selections flow in logical evolutionary mode, and the four musicians combine power and finesse to achieve a cohesive program of freely spun music. I hope they continue to play and record together." -- Frank Rubolino, One Final Note
"Even without the knowledge that this is only the band's third time together, you can sense the spirit of discovery and exploration present. There is also a tangible reverence for tradition, too, particularly in "Gone Too Soon" -- Fonda's heartfelt memorial to Thomas Chapin -- and Campbell's dedication to Hannibal Marvin Peterson. Above all, what you sense here is the language shared by the four musicians, made all the more expressive by the distinctive accents and cadences of the various players. Like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Nu Band makes music that sounds more like conversation than performance." -- James Hale, Coda
"This disc holds some first class freebop marking the recording debut of a promising group on the horizon." -- Larry Hollis, Cadence
"Operating in a space defined on one side by adventurous freebop and by unbridled energy music on the other, the four are familiar enough with the language to create flowing, inflected solo statements without ever undermining the overall rhythmic flow. So while Whitecage's liquid alto forays may probe atonality on his own "Court Street", the first -- and at 20 1/2 minutes, the longest track here -- Grassi's polyrhythms and Fonda's solid time keeping prevents the structure from heading off into space. With themes and counter themes suggesting early Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, this and the other tunes still have a definite structure. Plenty of solo space is built into that edifice, of course, with room for Campbell's treetop jumping trumpet, Grassi's sophisticated drum sallies and a place for Fonda to let loose as he hums and whistles along as he plays.
Introduced by growling, open-horn brass mountain climbing by its composer, Campbell's solo on "One for Hannibal" references many more trumpeters than its dedicatee, Hannibal Marvin Peterson. Celebrating every valve master who played a plunger chorus from Cootie Williams to Lester Bowie, contributions from the rest of the band soon move it straight into energy music. With Campbell's constricted glottal tones first soaring over Grassi's clamorous kit barrage, then succeeded by Whitecage highlighting accented reed screeches, finally seconded by Fonda's rock-solid work, it pulls a form of early jazz into the continuum. Proving that this is a group whose catholicity allows something like Ayler's conceptions to share space with Williams' mature style, the entire album speaks of musical acceptance, not rejection.
In the end that's why LIVE AT THE BOP SHOP is such an exciting product. Unlike self-satisfied jazz neo cons that try to limit definitions of improvisation, these neo-radicals apply an array of sounds and techniques to create a richer more satisfying soundscape." -- Ken Waxman, JazzWeekly.com