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Nu Band: Live at the Bop Shop

Certainly no one can accuse the Nu Band of dishonest advertising. The quartet, comprised of saxophonist Mark Whitecage, trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr., bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Lou Grassi, had only performed together twice before recording Live at the Bop Shop (Clean Feed) at the Rochester, N.Y., locale. Here, on their third gig, they play like a new group, unfortunately. What the quartet has going for it, however, is a surplus of energy and enthusiasm. Take Whitecage’s theme-obliterating first solo on his own “Court Street,” for example. Or there’s Fonda, run down with the flu but nevertheless beating and berating his bass mercilessly. The admirable drive doesn’t result in a cohesive performance, however. The band isn’t quite comfortable with the material or one another yet, and they tend to go their own way whenever it suits them. Campbell is not on his best game either. Sluggish throughout much of the performance, the trumpeter sounds like the one with the flu. It could and should happen for these guys-solid players all. It just didn’t the third time out.

Originally Published