Vinny Golia/Marco Eneidi/Lisa Mezzacappa/Vijay Anderson

Hell-Bent in the Pacific
No Business Records NBCD 49

By Ken Waxman

Both a reunion and a new configuration, the galloping interaction which makes up Hell-Bent in the Pacific unites alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi, who now lives in Austria, with his West Coast rhythm section plus added impetus from Los Angeles-based Vinny Golia’s many reeds.

Golia’s wide-ranging gigs have frequently put him in contact with bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and drummer Vijay Anderson, two of the Bay area’s busiest players, so that his contributions are inspired not alienating. Meanwhile Eneidi, a Californian who has been in Vienna since 2004, easily locks into a groove with the bassist and drummer. Crucially as well, his empathy with Golia is such that when the Angelo concentrates on tenor the result recalls the memorable two-horn partnership Eneidi had in the ‘90s with the late Glenn Spearman (1947-1998).

In contrast, tracks such as “Pendulum;” and “Fumbling Fulminations” demonstrate how curving chalumeau or flutter-tongued vibrations from Golia’s clarinet or bass clarinet tease the alto saxophonist’s tart tones so that the two reedists’ output twists around each other’s. Mezzacappa anchors the nine instant compositions with graceful power, encompassing a grab bag of bulldozer-like thumps and scrubbed line extensions. Anderson’s clip-clops and cuffs plus gong-like cymbal tones are precise and tasteful throughout.

Probably the highpoint for all comes on the extended “Catholic comstocking smut-hound”. Anderson’s slapping cymbals and Mezzacappa’s Pops Foster-style slap bass easily define the tune’s head and recapped finale leaving the horn men plenty of space. Each takes advantage of this with sharp bites and tactile slurs, as Golia’s tenor saxophone outlines the narrative, deconstructs it with screeches, snorts and split tones, and then revives it, as the alto saxophonist darts around him with multiphonic reed vibrations.

“Everything imaginable can be Dreamed” is Eneidi’s feature, while “Prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present” is another demonstration of Golia’s tenor saxophone prowess. Shadowed by Mezzacappa’s ringing bass line, the tenor saxist’s breathy lyricism plus heated triple tonguing honors both Ben Webster and John Coltrane. Meanwhile Eneidi’s timbres on his showpiece demonstrate a familiarity with Bird-like licks as well as so-called avant-garde playing.

Hell-Bent in the Pacific is such a high quality piece of work that one hopes that geography won’t prevent the quartet from convening again.

Tracks: Meteorites; Inessential Melancholies; Everything imaginable can be Dreamed; Deformities and Discords; Pendulum; Fumbling Fulminations; Prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present; Lop-sided heels and frayed shoes; Catholic comstocking smut-hound

Personnel: Vinny Golia: tenor, sopranino and soprano saxophones; Bb and bass clarinet; Marco Eneidi: alto saxophone; Lisa Mezzacappa: bass; Vijay Anderson: drums

—For The New York City Jazz Record March 2013