Creature Combos In NYC: Los Lobos, The Detroit Cobras, Bonobo, Gato Loco & Fight The Big Bull
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.