September 2010

The Rotunda4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: Free Admission
Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 8:00pm

The Nu Band

10th Anniversary Performance

Mark Whitecage, alto saxophone + clarient
Roy Campbell, trumpet + flugelhorn
Joe Fonda, bass
Lou Grassi, drums

"One of the best free bop bands of the moment is without a doubt The Nu Band, with four seasoned musicians who are as comfortable in the most complex jazz traditions as in the [most] adventurous sonic explorations" - Steff Gijssels

Please join Ars Nova Workshop for this free and special performance by The Nu Band!  This all-star quartet, which features Joe Fonda, Roy Campbell Jr., Mark Whitecage, and Lou Grassi, has toured internationally and released 4 critically acclaimed albums since 2001: Live at the Bop Shop: Rochester, NY (Clean Feed; 2001), The Nu Band Live (Konnex; 2003), The Dope and the Ghost: Live in Vienna (Not Two; 2005), and The Lower East Side Blues (Porter; 2009). Tonight's concert celebrates the quartet's 10th anniversary and first appearance in Philadelphia in 10 years, when ANW first presented the ensemble in August 2000!

"The music of Joe Fonda," claimed Anthony Braxton, "is part of a living tradition of belief and dedication. Future historians will be surprised at the breadth of Mr. Fonda's offerings. This is a real virtuoso and composer of the highest order."

Berklee School of Music graduate, composer, producer, and bassist Joe Fonda has worked with Archie Shepp, Lou Donaldson, Wadada Leo Smith, Perry Robinson, Bill Dixon, Anthony Braxton, and many others.  He is a founding member of The Fonda/Stevens Group, and the founding director of Kaleidoscope Arts, which is an interdisciplinary performance ensemble.  In addition to The Nu Group, his current projects include From The Source (a cross-disciplinary music, poetry, dance, and healing arts project), Conference Call (with Han Bennink, Matt Wilson, and Michael Stevens), and The FAB Trio (with Barry Althschul and Billy Bang).

Los Angeles-native Roy Campbell Jr. began playing piano, trumpet, flute, recorder, and violin at an early age.  In the early-1970s he participated in Jazzmobile Workshops with musicians like Kenny Dorham, Howard McGhee, and Lee Morgan.  At Manhattan Community College he studied with Dick Vance, Leonard Goines, and Yusef Lateef.  He then founded Spectrum and co-led Spirits of Rhythm with Jemeel Moondoc's Ensemble Muntu.  In the 1980s, Campbell led many groups, including TAZZ (with Andrew Bemkey, Chris Sullivan, and Michael Thompson), The Pyramid Trio (with William Parker and Hamid Drake), and Other Dimensions In Music (with Daniel Carter, William Parker, and Rashied Bakr).  Over the years he has also worked with Rashied Ali, Billy Bang, Henry Grimes, Sunny Murray, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Charles Tyler, John Zorn, and many others.  His releases as both a band leader and with his countless other groups consistently receive critical praise, and The Pyramid Trio's 2001 release Ethnic Stew and Brew ranked number 3 on JazzTimes Top 50 CDs of the year.  Two of his most recent releases, from 2008, are Spring Heel Jack Songs & Themes (with John Coxon, John Edwards, Orphy Robinson, John Tchicai, Ashley Wales, J. Spaceman, Rupert Clervaux, and Mark Sanders), and Akhenaten Suite (with Billy Bang, Bryan Carrott, Hilliard Greene, and Zen Matsuura).

Connecticut-born saxophonist and clarinetist Mark Whitecage had a chance encounter with Eric Dolphy while stationed in El Paso, Texas during his time with the US Army in the mid-1950s.  He cites this meeting as a pivotal moment in his musical career.  In the 1960s he began playing with improvisers like Mario Pavone, Perry Robinson, James Duboise, and Laurence Cook, and moved to New York City in 1970s to become deeply involved in the loft scene, playing with groups like Collected Works and the Construction Company.  He has released many albums on labels like Cadence Jazz, Leo, GM Recordings, CIMP, and the label he founded, Acoustics.  He is the leader of the Mark Whitecage Quartet (with Sabir Mateen, Dominic Duval, and Jay Rosen), and in addition to The Nu Band, also plays with Drunk Butterfly (featuring Adam Lane and Lou Grassi), and in various collaborations with Rozanne Levine (RoMarkable, The Bi-Coastal Orchestra, Chakra Tuning, and The New Reed Quartet).

Drummer Lou Grassi has appeared on over 60 recordings and 9 as group leader.  Over the years he has performed with Marshall Allen, Billy Bang, Rob Brown, Borah Bergman, John Tchicai, Perry Robinson, Joseph Jarman, William Parker, and many others.  He has toured internationally with various ensembles, and is deeply interested in the connections between music and dance, as he has worked with a long list of contemporary choreographers.  Grassi has worked as a dance accompanist at New Jersey City University since 1979, and also is a teaching artist for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  In addition to his work with The Nu Band, some of his current projects include a trio with Marilyn Lerner and Ken Filiano, another with Kenny Wessel and Ken Filiano, The Dixie Peppers, and The Lou Grassi Jazz Quintet (with Bob Porcelli, Patience Higgins, Les Kurtz, and Dave Hofstra).