Nu Band has a special place in Bop Shop Records history. The group originally counted among its members Roy Campbell playing trumpet, Mark Whitecage playing saxophones, Joe Fonda playing bass and Lou Grassi playing drums. They gave a memorable concert on January 27, 2001 (their third as a band) that subsequently was released on the Portuguese label Clean Feed as Live At The Bop Shop, the first recording to bear that legend. Needless to say, a lot has happened since then. Yet they maintained their original mission: a quartet of equals with each member having a say in compositions, booking performances etc. They have also retained the looseness and improvisatory daring that characterized their music. This unit released six albums, maintaining their sharp writing, wit and style.
Sadly, in 2014, trumpeter Campbell passed away, leaving a void in the New York scene as well as in Nu Band. To honor some previously booked commitments, the band recruited ICP Orchestra trumpeter Thomas Heberer (who divides his time between New York and Amsterdam) to help play out the dates. The surprising thing is that Heberer was very attuned to the music and the other three members. He provided the uplift and enthusiasm to get through that final tour. So Whitecage, Fonda and Grassi decided to continue Nu Band as a group with Heberer. He has brought in an individual style and a new trumpet voice to the band. While he sounds nothing like Campbell, he brings an enormous amount of respect for his predecessor. His composition “One For Roy,” featured on Nu Band’s latest release Live In Geneva, is evidence of that. And he shares the band’s penchant for open-ended improvisation and experimentation that keeps its music fresh and within the modern tradition.
Whenever Nu Band appears at Bop Shop Records (and they’ve played here three other times), it’s like a homecoming. And we’re happy to host a band that we think is one of the best-kept secrets in jazz. It will be a night of fun, substantial, adventurous music and, if we’re lucky, Joe Fonda might even throw in a poem.