Dying Will Be Easy
Fight the Big Bull
J.C. Kuhl (ts), Adrian Sandi (cl), Bob Miller (t), Brian Jones (perc), Bryan Hooten (tb), Cameron Ralston (b), Matt White (g), Pinson Chanselle (perc), Reggie Pace (tb),
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Matthew White’s Fight the Big Bull nonet treats the past as a point of departure. Each composition plays with those references to jazz history. The title of the CD refers to the Blind Willie Johnson blues song “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed.” Other tracks have other associations: “Black Saint and the Sinner Lady” by Charles Mingus, “Escalator Over the Hill” by Carla Bley with the Jazz Composers Orchestra, “New Orleans Suite” by Duke Ellington, and reminiscences of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Lounge Lizards, Archie Shepp (who, by the way, also used trumpet, tenor saxophone, clarinet and two trombones – plus tuba – on “Mama Too Tight”), and Mike Mantler. In his liner notes, trumpeter Steven Bernstein discusses these allusions as if he’s disassembling an engine. But although this work could be a challenge for encyclopedically minded jazz listener, the music stands alone. And although it is the vision of one man, who composed and arranged all the pieces, the collective focus is astonishing. There’s no fixed hierarchy here.