The NU Band, Friday, January 12, 7:30pm, 121 Club Eastworks, Easthampton

Nu Band

featuring Mark Whitecage, reeds, Thomas Heberer, trumpet, Joe Fonda, bass, Lou Grassi, drums, 121 Club, Eastworks, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA

Founded in 2003, the Nu Band is a collective of four dynamic professionals – all of whom compose and lead a number of groups. The Nu Band was organized in 1999 by Lou Grassi and Roy Campbell, and for 14 years, six widely acclaimed cds, six European tours, and several U.S. tours the band functioned as a co-operatively run organization with the same personnel at all times. Thomas Heberer replaced Campell after the trumpeter’s untimely death in 2014.

Thomas Heberer, born 1965 in Schleswig, Germany, studied under Manfred Schoof at the Cologne University of Music from 1984 to 1987. Before moving to New York City in 2008, the trumpeter served for 12 years in the band supporting German talk show host Harald Schmidt . He can be heard on approximately 100 recordings. Wim Wenders’ feature-length dance movie, Pina, winner of the 2011 European Film Award, includes music Heberer contributed to Ten Chi, a choreography by Pina Bausch. Besides his ongoing work with the ICP Orchestra, Heberer can be heard with Yoni Kretzmer’s Five and the Angelica Sanchez Nonet.

Mark Whitecage is “an improviser of extraordinary imagination and intensity,” writes Chris Kelsey. Whitecage began performing at age six in his father’s family band and got his union card at age 12. He attained a degree of public notice in the 1980s as a member of Gunter Hampel’s Galaxy Dream Band and Saheb Sarbib’s recording ensemble. He was a member of vocalist Jeanne Lee’s ensemble, and by 1988 began leading two separate bands: Liquid Time and the Glass House Ensemble. He has a number of award-winning recordings on Acoustics, CIMP and GM Recordings. Since the 1960’s he has performed and recorded with some of the leading artists of our time, including Anthony Braxton, Joe McPhee, Steve Swell and Marshall Allen.

Joe Fonda is perhaps best known as Anthony Braxton’s bassist of choice for much of the 1990s, but he has made vital contributions to the Fonda-Stevens Group, Conference Call, the FAB Trio and the Michael Musillami Trio. While playing around New Haven in the 1980s, he began an association with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose global aesthetic helped shape Fonda’s own musical philosophy; they recorded together on 1983’s Procession of the Great Ancestry. Fonda also created From the Source, an interdisciplinary group which includes a tap dancer and vocalist/body healer as equal members. Fonda has worked with Archie Shepp, Ken McIntyre, Satoko Fujii, Bill and Kenny Barron, Randy Weston and Karl Berger.

Lou Grassi is internationally known for his work in both the traditional and the avant-garde jazz worlds. From the 1970’s to the present, he has performed and recorded with Marshall Allen, Borah Bergman, Rob Brown, Charles Gayle, Urbie Green, Johnny Hartman, Sheila Jordan, William Parker, Perry Robinson, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai and many others. He is the leader of the Lou Grassi PoBand which has released five CDs and received critical acclaim worldwide. He has created original music for more than 15 dance pieces by choreographers including Richard Bull, Carolyn Dorfman, Bill T. Jones, Lois Welk, and Arnie Zane.