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Fight the Big Bull: An American Band

The blues- and folk-informed Fight the Big Bull makes a go of it from Richmond, Va.

Fight the Big Bull, photo by Ash Daniel

Leading a 10-piece ensemble that incorporates swing, rock, folk and free jazz in Richmond, Va., admits composer-guitarist Matt White, “can be like creating music in a vacuum.” So when Fight the Big Bull’s debut CD, Dying Will Be Easy, began to garner accolades, White and his bandmates felt they’d proved a point. “I wouldn’t say we have a chip on our shoulder,” White says, “but we’re here, we’re creating music, and we’re confident that what we’re doing is unique. I think that’s really kept people together.”

Originally intended to be a demo, Dying Will Be Easy caught the ear not only of Clean Feed Records, who released it in 2008, but of two of White’s biggest influences: saxophonist Ken Vandermark and slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein, both of whom have gone on to collaborate with the band. Bernstein, in fact, performs and contributes two compositions and an arrangement of the Band’s “Jemima Surrender” to Fight the Big Bull’s second album for Clean Feed, All Is Gladness in the Kingdom. “His music is really inspired by my music, but it’s also inspired by many of the things that inspired me,” Bernstein says. The two met when White, freshly graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, e-mailed Bernstein and received a terse reply: “Call me.”

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