Robinson to open with Fight the Big Bull, No BS Brass Band

12/19/2008 3:01 PM by

Richmond’s own (and lauded) Fight the Big Bull, accompanied by with Steven Bernstein, and with the No BS Brass Band will be playing the first show ever at the refurbished Robinson Theater Community Arts Center on Saturday, February 21.

From the RVA Jazz press release:

Fight the Big Bull is proud to announce that we will be bringing the inimitable, highly influential and universally renowned trumpeter, arranger and composer Steven Bernstein to Richmond for ten days in February. During his stay Fight the Big Bull will be recording a new record featuring his superlative trumpet playing as well as new material he is composing for the band. On Friday night, Feb 20th, Steven and Fight the Big Bull will be playing the first show ever at the refurbished Robinson Theater Community Arts Center in Church Hill. On Saturday night, Feb 21, Steven and Fight the Big Bull will be headlining the first RVAjazzfest at the Camel.

About Steven: Steven Bernstein is one of the hardest working men in show business. He composes, arranges, leads bands of feverish and crackling intent, and plays a heckuva lot of trumpet. His influence and projects inhabit almost every strain of American music that has been produced in the last half century. He consistently collaborates with Lou Reed, plays trumpet and arranges for Levon Helm, is the former musical director of no-wave Jazz outfit The Lounge Lizards, has released four beautiful records on John Zorn’s Tzadik Label, composed numerous film scores including Get Shorty, Clay Pigeons, and Fishing With John as well as scoring Robert Altman’s Kansas City. He has worked on various Hal Wilner Projects including being the musical director on the unanimously acclaimed and recently released Leonard Cohen documentary. Bernstein wrote the horn arrangements for Bill Frissel’s Grammy winning 2004 recording Unspeakable, as well as for artists including Rufus Wainwright, Darlene Love, Elton John, and Marvin Pontiac. His band Sex Mob has been together since 1995 touring the world. Sex Mob has won numerous awards, and has had their music featured on MTV, Saturday Night Live and NPR. His nine-piece ensemble, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, recently released their debut recording, MTO Vol. 1 on Sunnyside records. MTO was formed in 1999 for a series of Midnight shows at Tonic, and spent a year and a half long residency at the Jazz Standard.

Bernstein has played trumpet with a diverse group of artists including Marianne Faithfull, Linda Ronstadt, David Murray, David Berger, Digable Planets, Sting, Medeski Martin and Wood, Courtney Love, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Don Byron and Mocean Worker. Awards include Downbeat critics poll 2006 (#1 RISING STAR ARRANGER, #4 RISING STAR TRUMPETER) Downbeat critics poll 2005 (#1 RISING STAR ARRANGER) Downbeat critics poll 2004 (#1 ARRANGER TDWR, #2 BIG BAND – MILLENNIAL TERRITORY ORCHESTRA), Jazz Journalists Association 2003 (RARE BRASS) and Downbeat Critics Poll 2002 (SEX MOB #1 BEYOND GROUP, #1 ACOUSTIC JAZZ GROUP TDWR).

About Fight the Big Bull: A spirited congregation of saxophone, clarinet, trombones, trumpet, guitar, bass and two drummers, Fight the Big Bull is a display of spontaneous emotion filled with powerful significance and baptized in the traditions of the music. The band’s recordings have drawn praise from artists such as Ken Vandermark and Steven Bernstein and recently gained the attention of Portuguese avant-garde label, Clean Feed Records. Dying Will Be Easy, the bands debut effort, connects the group to its rich southern musical heritage. Proud residents of Richmond, Virginia, the band’s music is filled with remnants of spirituals, New Orleans marches, southern soul dance bands, and gospel choirs – all peeking through a kaleidoscope built in the avant-garde tradition. Displaying a very loose and messy aesthetic influenced as much by rock and roll as a deep love of international folk music Fight the Big Bull creates what has been called “… a rapturously chaotic sound.”

Formed in the Fall of 2005 in Richmond, Va by what was then Fight the Bull (a brilliant but currently defunct avant-gard trio of guitar, trombone and drums) and comprised of the finest that Richmond had to offer Fight the Big Bull recorded what was to become Dying Will Be Easy in the Summer of 2006. After securing a local bi-weekly gig in the fall of 2006 Fight the Big Bull quickly became a phenomenon in the local music community, honing their live performance into a beautiful chaotic and thrilling mess that appeals to the widest spectrum of listeners. Occasionally showing their exceptional sense of humor as well as unique arranging skills Fight the Big Bull has thrown the biggest and best parties that Richmond has ever seen, hosting a complete cover of the Weezer’s Blue Album as well as covering Michael Jackson’s Thriller on Halloween. In the Fall of 2007 Fight the Big Bull made their debut at the celebrated New York avant-gard space The Stone and released their freaky Richmond gospel trance voodoo on all unsuspecting NYC ears. In April Fight the Big Bull was MacArthur Grant recipient and celebrated avant-garde troubadour Ken Vandermark’s guest for a series of shows in Chicago. They have been called “…sonically gigantic”, “great, messy, generous music”, ” the best argument out there for small-market jazz innovation.”, and Timeout NY has called them “… one of the more vibrant jazz ensembles we’ve heard in a long while”. In November Fight the Big Bull was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and WNYC (New York City’s NPR station) and recently named Dying Will Be Easy as one of the top 10 Jazz albums of 2008. A band full of horns and love that you should never ever miss, displaying such a wide palate of emotions that your tin heart cannot escape being moved and featuring the finest members of the Richmond music community, Fight the Big Bull is much more than the sum of its parts and begs more than a passing spin on the hi-fi.

We are, of course, very excited to be hosting such an esteemed musician in our own city. The reasons that Steven is giving generously of his time and coming here are many, but not the least of them is that he, along with an increasing amount of others, is taking a serious look at the Richmond Jazz community as serious contributors to the genre. In a telling remark in a recent review from noted Jazz critic Will Layman ended his article with….”Richmond is the new Brooklyn? Why not?”


Feb 20th
Fight the Big Bull featuring Steven Bernstein.
No BS Brass Band
Robinson Theater Community Arts Center
9:00, Free

Feb 21rst
Fight the Big Bull featuring Steven Bernstein
Glows in the Dark
Brian Jones’ Boots of Leather
8:00, $10

TAGGED: , , ,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By commenting you are agreeing to this site's PRIVACY / USE / COPYRIGHT / DISCLAIMER