Creature Combos In NYC: Los Lobos, The Detroit Cobras, Bonobo, Gato Loco & Fight The Big Bull
The combined players might have all been hyperactive indeed, but Zeniuk always surpassed any energy that they threw out, whether he was issuing frantic hand signals or erupting in an expressively ornatebut always driven and blusterysolo of his own. Guitarist Clifton Hyde was frequently responsible for tearing the music off into an even more extreme zone, just when it was already running at full tilt. His unhinged date with ascension recalled the most powerful, overloaded fuzz guitar stretches produced by the Harvey Averne Barrio Band in the 1970s. Disconcertingly, Hyde also doubled on French horn. Surely this was a one-off combinationa completely impressive form of schizophrenia!
Fight The Big Bull
January 6, 2011
This gig was on the eve of NYC's Winter Jazzfest, which is where Fight the Big Bull last made a massive dent on the city's musical landscape, a year previously. This was a lower-key show, in a way, but still bristling with a large crowd, a victory celebration for local promoters Search & Restore's successful Kickstarter Project fund-raising drive. There were two more big bands on the way (Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra), but the audience was already growing fast during FTBB's prompt opening set.
The band hails from Richmond, Virginia, and its music was more lawless than that which was to follow. They were more of an enlarged small combo than a full big band, but there was still no shortage of bristling horn power. FTBB relishes the possibilities found in the teetering between an arranged rumpus and regular outbreaks of abrasive individuality. As seen and heard before, their twinned trombones were notably prominent, and often muted into a New Orleans splutter, ripped, smeared and streaked. Their drummer also scuttled around his percussive floor-mess, and the trombonists demonstrated a penchant for deftly-timed bell-chimes, or other tiny metallic embellishments. Guitarist (and ringmaster) Matt White seemed less dominant than last time around, but that may have been a general sound-balance quirk. Charles Mingus must be the group's spiritual guiding light, particularly the way in which he sieved down the music of New Orleans, his wanton way with roughed-up gospel and blues. All this, and more, fed through the intestines of free improvisation. Given that Steven Bernstein was so central to FTBB's last album project, and that he was lurking around in the house, it was strange that he decided not to make a guest showing.