|J A Z Z W O R D R E V I E W S
|Reviews that mention Vinny Golia
PATRICK ZIMMERLI & OCTURN
The Book of Hours
17 Themes for Ockodektet
PfMentum CD 010
Fashioning large-scale compositions for a group of improvising players can be approached in at least two ways. One is to create parts for particular musicians, go over every semidemiquaver of the score and through a series of rehearsals and road trips perfect the performance so its note-perfect and ready to be recorded under optimum studio conditions.
Another way is to gather a bunch of your friends and associates for a live concert honoring some important occasion, bring along a bunch of charts which they may or may not have seen before and have them play them. Capture the whole thing direct to DAT and release the resulting product. Saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli and trumpeter Jeff Kaisers CDs offer examples of each of these approaches.
New Yorker Zimmerli has won music prizes, written film scores, string quartets and piano concertos as well as pieces for chamber orchestras, jazz combos and jazz bands. THE BOOK OF HOURS is a 56-minute jazz suite, referencing a medieval monastic tradition when a different prayer was said at seven different times of the day. A superior exercise in chamber jazz, the piece was commissioned and is played by Octurn, a 10-year-old Brussels-based collective led by baritone saxophonist Bo Van der Werf. Before recording in a formation that added American guitarist Ben Monder to the 10-piece ensemble plus Zimmerli on soprano sax, the band with the composer on board toured the composition throughout Belgium for a month.
Ventura, Calif.-based Kaiser conducts, teaches music privately, organizes New music concerts, performs with his own groups and with trombonist Michael Vlatkovichs Brass Trio, multi-reedist Vinny Golias Large Ensemble and anarchistic guitarist Eugene Chadbourne among many others. An ad hoc large orchestra, a bit distantly recorded runs though Kaisers newest creations on 17 THEMES. A 40th birthday present to himself, hes now seven years older than Zimmerli.
As evidenced by his playing partners the Left Coast trumpeter is also from the anything goes school of free improvisation, while the saxophonist could be slotted in the more formal compositional and orchestrational stream that includes the likes of Gil Evans and Gunther Schuller. Besides the fact that that the 17 (sic) musicians on Kaisers CD play only 14 (sic) separate tunes, the cheerful anarchy that characterizes the rest of his work extends to the packaging. His disc comes in a paper sleeve inserted inside a two- color cardboard wraparound, illustrated with what looks like items copied from a fanciful mechanical catalogue. In a proper jewel case, the Zimmerli disc on the other hand is beautifully illustrated as if it was a faux medieval illuminated manuscript, with attractive designs depicted on both the booklet cover and the CD itself.
Proper clean lines and bright pastel colors that are part of BOOK OF HOURS illustrations reflect the discs contents as well. Moving faultlessly through a variety of time signatures, harmonies, melodies and compositional colors, the band members play their parts seemingly without a note out of place. You can often almost sense score pages being turned. More engaging, though, is how Zimmerli has taken the outlines of a pious ceremony and used compositional alchemy to make the multi-movement suite both secular and energetic. By the same token he hasnt let the ensembles (in this case) two drummers, two electric guitarists and two electric bassists force the sounds into a harder fusion mold. Instead his BOOK OF HOURS seems to be ticking away somewhere near the time when cool was born.
Among the themes are four small group contrapuntal interludes which allude to John Coltranes A Love Supreme. Featuring no more than fleeting recapitulations of the famous riff, they add to the suites reverent quality.
Dont imagine this as a jazz version of monastic plainchant, though. Octurn can certainly swing, albeit lightly. Over the course of the disc you hear thick bass guitar vamps; metre-changing drumming which sometimes sounds like horses hooves and other times distinctive Afro-Cuban percussion; thick ostinato chords; muted trumpet and ethereal soprano saxophone sections. There are times when the entire ensemble swells to resemble a medieval cathedral organ; plus piano parts which suggest montuneando at certain points or the output of a 16th century virginal elsewhere. There are references to the rondo, alternating melodies, 12-tone structures and even the blues.
Its only on the last where the band falls down. While trombonist Geoffroy De Masure tries hard and trumpeter Laurent Blondiau even harder so that he gets a bit of grit into his solos, no one is ever going to confuse either of them for Al Gray or Cootie Williams respectively. Muted interludes and staccato blasts are handled by the brass and horns with aplomb, as are the contortions pianist Fabian Fiorini is sometimes asked to go through, but this isnt a band of distinctive soloists. Even in their brief features, Monder and Zimmerli as well, seem uncharacteristically pale.
So celebrate THE BOOK OF HOURS as an exceptionally well-written festival feature that swings gently in pristine sound.
No one would ever say the latter about 17 THEMES, which at times comes across as so distinct and murky that certain parts are almost lost. Then again Kaiser had to balance the contributions of five more musicians than Zimmerli, not to mention oddball instruments like the euphonium, tuba, prepared acoustic guitar, electronics and a theremin in an open-air space.
With titles quirkier and more complicated than Zimmerlis time-of-day themed compositions, the trumpeter has come up with two suites of music where themes run right into one another despite individually numbered tracks. Upfront though, with the band members operating at a high-energy level reminiscent of Tranes ASCENSION band or The Globe Unity Orchestra. Dense sounds like these often depend on pure emotion and stick-to-it-ness to succeed and the group has both of those attributes in spades.
In the first suite the lumbering, swaying beast takes its shape from the rumbling ostinato pulse provided by the three percussionists and Mark Weavers tuba blasts. When the cacophony lessens it often appears as if theres a contest on between shaking, screeching brass and smeary woodwind trills. As parallel echoing cries from cross blowing flutists mix with saxophone split tones while electronics and percussion build up a curtain of intense power, the odd a capella respite by vaporous oboe or muted Baroque trumpet at least lightens the mood. Other sounds that pierce the block of thick sound are Brad Dutzs subtle marimba lines plus whistles and shimmies from whats probably Ernesto Diaz-Infantes prepared acoustic guitar.
Eventually before the theme resolves itself as a close relative to those multi-percussion anthems that Sun Ras Arkestra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago encouraged others to emulate in the 1960s and 1970s, saxophone tones move from the nephritic to snaking musette-like, piccolos soar bird-like, trumpets gliss and purr, snare and bass drums go in-and-out of march tempo and it seems that every cymbal in the band is scratched for maximum ear abrasion.
Shorter by almost 20 minutes, suite two begins with some heavy Wagnerian chords played by the massed horns and what sound like strings probably produced by Wayne Peets electronic samples. Before the theme is reprised and propelled to the next sonic level by the horns, both guitarists appear to be indulging in behind the bridge flat picking. Suddenly a pastoral section faces off with what could be a distinctive, echoing steel drum tone, which itself morphs into a J. Arthur Rank style gong tone. Soon
The brass shakes and squeals, the woodwinds turn spit and grit and tongue slaps into rhythm and a distinct hunting horn resonance characterizes the euphonium. Following some EST electronic timbres and a kettle drum line, a bleating tenor saxophone and plunger trumpet introduce a bouncing near-military tempo which cements the sections together. Launched on top of Peets swelling organ passages and some straightahead rat tat tat drumming from the percussionists, the dissonance seems to reach its screaming finale as honks and vamps alternate back-and-forth. At least, that is, until the entire sonic picture fades into a final reverberating cymbal tone.
Obviously the Ockodektet made up in exertion and effort what it lacked in arrangements and pristine sound, though it would have helped to know which of the woodwind soloists played which instrument. If you can get through the often murky sound here youll hear a first-rate band playing the sort of exuberant outside sounds which define Free Jazz. Performing so much more cleanly, Octurn could have pushed its performance to a higher level still if it had adopted some of the dirt and sweat the other band showed off in abundance.
Overall though, the creations both groups successfully answer in different ways how best to write for a large improvising band.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Book: 1. Dawn 2. Interlude (Duet) 3. Morning 4. Interlude (Trio) 5. Noon 6. Interlude (Quartet) 7. Afternoon 8. Dusk 9. Interlude (Sextet) 10. Night 11. Sleep
Personnel: Book: Laurent Blondiau (trumpet; flugelhorn); Geoffroy De Masure (trombone); Patrick Zimmerli (soprano saxophone); Guillame Orti (alto saxophone); Bo Van der Werf (baritone saxophone); Fabian Fiorini (piano); Pierre Van Dormael (electric guitar); Ben Monder (acoustic and electric guitars); Otti Van der Werf and Jean-Luc Lehr (electric bass); Stéphane Galland and Chander Sardjoe (drums)
Track Listing: 17: Suite One: 1. Dirge 2. Clad Like Birds 3. Amplifying Their Parallels 4. Nothing May Be Taken Naturally 5. Even with Diagrams 6. One Absolute Material 7. Figures of this In-Between 8. Figures to be Actualities 9. Figure with Wings Suite Two: 10. Coincidentia Oppositorum 11. Where His Third Eye Could Be 12. Fulfilled by the Reflected Image 13. There is No Profit from Dreams 14. Into That Nothing-Between
Personnel: 17: Dan Clucas, Kris Tiner, Jeff Kaiser (trumpets); Eric Sbar (euphonium and valve trombone); Mark Weaver (tuba); Eric Barber, Vinny Golia, Emily Hay, Lynn Johnston (woodwinds); Ernesto Diaz-Infante (prepared acoustic guitar); G.E. Stinson (electric guitar and electronics); Wayne Peet (organ, theremin and electronics); Jim Connolly and Scott Walton (bass); Billy Mintz and Richie West (drums); Brad Dutz (percussion)
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
March 5, 2013
Rent Romus/Vinny Golia
Lords of Outland, Edge of Dark
Edgetone EDT 4112
Halcyon Science 130410
Barnyard Records BR0323
Gail Brand & Mark Sanders
Instinct & The Body
Regardless Records R01
Birgit Ulher/Lucio Capece
Another timbre at41
Something in the Air: Brass-y Women Stand Up and Stand Out
By Ken Waxman
Enhanced freedom in music over the past 60 years has involved more than the addition of new instrumental techniques and compositional strategies. Recasting of gender roles has also taken place. No longer are women instrumentalists expected to play traditionally delicate female instruments such as violins or flutes; or those where they sit demurely such as the piano, harp or cello. This change is most obvious in improvised music, where the number of women who stand up to play has multiplied exponentially. Many have chosen to become brass players, adapting their skills to apparatuses which demands power and stamina.
Take Toronto trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud for instance. The high-quality improvising she exhibits on Halcyon Science 130410 Barnyard Records BR0323 in the company of saxophonist Evan Shaw, drummer Jean Martin, bassist Wes Neal and percussionist Tomasz Krakowiak doesn’t distinguish in any way between her talents and those of her colleagues. During seven group compositions, the quintet vaults back-and-forth from high-energy anthems to more cerebral explorations with equal skill. “Take me To Your Leader” is an example of the latter, as clattering friction from Krakowiak’s noise-makers evolves in stacked counterpoint alongside Shaw’s irregularly squeezed vibrations plus the mouthpiece suckles and tremolo emphasis of Rampersaud. Her rubato slurs and valve squeaks intersect perfectly with the baritone saxophonist’s tongued percussiveness as Martin’s ratamacues, pops and drags presage harmonizing vamps and a final quivering dissolve. Meantime the title tune and Dirigible move with a chromatic gait. The former resembles an Eric Dolphy line, with repeated climaxes interrupted by mid-range honks from Shaw and stuttering pitches from the trumpeter. “Dirigible” stacks timbres so that space between Rampersaud’s staccato and heraldic tone and Shaw’s juddering tempos are obvious. Still a near-bugle call on the trumpeter’s part in the final sequence signals a slowdown to barely there flutter tonguing on her part, accompanied by the reedist’s smooth obbligato, until together they dovetail into muted tones framed by drumstick-rubbing friction from the two percussionists
Atonal textures are even tougher and more staccato on Bay area saxophonist Rent Romus’ Lords of Outland quintet’s Edge of Dark Edgetone EDT 4112 But trumpeter CJ Bourque only really makes an impression on that instrument when she blends her tongued triplets and tremolo flutters with the reed work from Romus and Vinny Golia on pieces such as “Night Nova” and “Over the Rift”. Otherwise the emphasis is on Golia’s peeping piccolo intersecting with double tonguing from Romus, plus electric bassist Ray Shaeffer’s powerful plucks and pops on the former tune or Romus’ irregular split tones plus percussionist Philip Everett’s rolls, drags and smacks on the latter. That’s because Bourque performs another role here, patching in blurry whistles and wavering flanges from manipulated electronics, most noticeably on “Over the Rift” and “Edge of Dark”. Contrapuntal when needed and interactive at other junctures, these jittery and wiggling oscillations outline sequences like Golia’s low-pitched reed slurps, or high energy soprano saxophone lines from Romus, providing the unifying accompaniment that Bourque’s brass obbligatos do elsewhere. Overall, the CD’s texture is as dense and exultant as the fantasy writings which inspired it.
Electronic impulses in microtonal settings characterize the improvisations advanced by Hamburg-based trumpeter Birgit Ulher in a duo with Argentina-born reedist Lucio Capece, Choices Another Timbre at41. Reducing her horn’s output to muted shakes, buzzes and vibrations amplified by a radio set up, Ulher proves that cunning can be substituted for stamina to produce notable improvisations. With the timbres of Capece’s bass clarinet or soprano saxophone filtered by preparations as air is harshly forced through the body tube, Ulher’s capillary pressures and metallic reverberations produce sympathetic polyphony. “Chance”” is the most extended example, with both sound sources juddering and undulating as they combine for both chalumeau growls and strident squeals. With sonic suggestions of a hamster running on a wheel or of wisps of wind wafting upwards, the results are collective not individual. Although distinct strategies such as Ulher's use of a metal plate as a mute to create maximum vibrations, or Capece’s reed bites and tongue stopping elongating tones without resorting to electronics appear, fascination results from tracing the evolution of this disassociated and dissonant sound picture not the ending. Yet the bubbling, shaking, straining and squeaking eventually produce tones that are satisfyingly cumulative and cooperative.
There’s no hint of electronics in British trombonist Gail Brand’s duo with drummer Mark Sanders on Instinct & The Body Regardless Records R01). Plus her inventive attack is powerful enough to banish any thoughts of delicacy. Utilizing sudden brays and nephritic dips into the horn’s lowest tubing, she’s as comfortable with staccato line extensions as bulky plunger swoops. Meantime Sanders uses brushes-on-snares pressure, ruffs and rim shots to advance his part. “Under Orders” finds Brand slithering from one pitch to another and from loopy tailgate burlesque to rapid-fire slide stops without missing a breath. Sanders backbeats and rumbles are just as relaxed. Then on “Tread Softly …” as the drummer slaps and clatters, Brand trades high-pitched whinnies for emphasized pedal-point, blowing chromatically until attaining a variant of serene romanticism.
Women brass players may stand up to improvise. On the evidence of the work here, many also should do so to acknowledge applause.
-- For Whole Note Vol. 17 #3
November 5, 2011
Bert Turetzky/George Lewis/Vinny Golia
By Ken Waxman
As unruffled as any musical conversation among veteran players, the free improvisations which make up Triangulation II evolve with certainty and sophistication. Nonetheless with each player an old hand at pushing instrumental timbres to their limits, the results are anything but comfy. Multi-reedman Vinny Golia, trombonist George Lewis and bassist Bert Turetzky are so experienced at sonically depicting the seemingly impossible that they can do so at medium tempos and moderate volume. Plus these unorthodox techniques don’t stop them from creating harmonious musical relationships.
Turetzky, a retired UCSD music professor, who taught accomplished players such as David Izenson and Mark Dresser, pioneered solo recitals of contemporary notated music for double bass. Here, with his stentorian bowing or flashing spiccato, he sets up the other two’s improvisations then provides string-slapping continuum. Lewis’ contributions range from earth-shaking capillary growls and plunger cries to vocalized tremolo tones. His early association with Anthony Braxton serves him well when dealing contrapuntally or in harmony with Golia, who on this CD outlines breathy flute patterns, guttural contrabass clarinet roars and shrill, yet legato clarinet lines.
Although lacking the bassist’s col legno bow work or slide-whistle like squeals from Golia, which enliven a track like “Diversion a Tre”, two other tracks pinpoint the trio’s intuitive cooperation. “A Low Frequency Colloquy” is just that. Golia’s glissandi and Lewis’ brays sink to such a subterranean low that Turetzky’s pedal point soon prods them to alternate guttural tones with higher pitched shrills. However “Another Heated Conversation” with its mirrored triple-counterpoint, is heated in execution not anger. By the finale it’s nearly impossible to distinguish one instrument’s texture from another, with the trombonist trumpeting elephant-like, the bassist’s slapping his lowest tones and the reedman overblowing pressurized licks from two horns simultaneously.
As perfectly balanced as a triangle’s three sides, the performances are emotionally fulfilling as well.
Tracks: Reconaissance; Plenipotentiary Panache; Ballade; You Don’t Say; A Low Frequency Colloquy; Diversion a Tre; Another Heated Conversation (Thanks to M.W.); Up Is Down (Jan Sedifka R.I.P).
Personnel: George Lewis: trombone; Vinny Golia: woodwinds; Bert Turetzky: contrabass
--For New York City Jazz Record May 2011
May 16, 2011
Bertram Turetzky/Vinny Golia
The San Diego Session
Kadima Collective Recordings KCR 24
Evil Rabbit ERR 10
Although not as unusual as they would have been as recently as 20 years ago, duo sessions by woodwind players and bassists still necessitate having a bull fiddler participating who has seemingly limitless technique plus a bubbling fountain of ideas. The reason is simple, while the horn players has many keys he can sound – on more than one instrument on these discs – the bassist only has four tightly wound strings and a bow with which to work.
Luckily both bassists here are up to the challenge. Known for his skills in both the improvised and notated worlds, Bertram Turetzky easily complements Los Angles-based multi-reedman Vinny Golia’s work on The San Diego Session. Turetzky, who until his recent retirement, was a music professor at University of California, San Diego, uses a variety of instrumental feints and flourishes to mark his sonic territory. That isn’t surprising for a player whose versatility has allowed him to participate in sessions involving players as different as mainstream jazz pianist Mike Wofford and polymath trombonist George Lewis.
Recorded at almost the exact same time as the other disc but in Amsterdam, that is as close to the Atlantic Ocean as San Diego is to the Pacific, is Dutch bassist Meinrad Kneer. He proves to be as sonically adaptable as Turetzky on 11 instant compositions with Dutch multi-reedist Ab Baars. Baars, whose best-known affiliation is with the ICP Orchestra, brings his tenor saxophone, clarinet, shakuhachi and noh-kan to the session. Windfall demonstrates that this timbral collection didn’t faze Kneer. Versatility is his watchword. Although Kneer often records with prepared pianist Albert Van Veenendaal, he also works frequently with Jazz-Folk-Rocker guitarist Paul Pallesen and other leading lights of the Netherlands’ improv scene as saxophonist Tobias Delius.
One instance of the Baars/Kneer concordance occurs on “Bird Talk”, which links the bassist’s distanced creaks and shuffle bowing with shrill whistling and intermittent, high-pitched twitters with an Oriental cast, likely produced by Baars’ noh kan or bamboo transverse flute. By the piece's completion, the reedist’s biting shrills are matched by the bassist’s spiccato scrubs.
Similar strategies arise on tunes using more conventional instruments such as tenor saxophone on “The Pledge” and clarinet on “Insinuated Instability”. On the first, Baars’ initial flat-line undulations ascend to continuous harsh reed blasts as Kneer crunches and scratches andante lines – his stretched tessitura unperturbed by the saxophonist’s concentrated atonality. As a matter of fact, when Baars produces double, triple and quadruple variations on certain note clusters, Kneer does the same by using bow motions and concluding passages that are both legato and basso. On the latter tune it’s Baars’ moderato clarinet lines which have to catch up, as the bassist’s finger-style accompaniment blossoms first with strums and twangs and then with sawing, crackling, single-note resonation. Downshifting to a gentler output as he solos, the clarinetist manages to interest Kneer in what could be baroque inventions, ending the piece with warm, near pastoral counterpoint.
In truth, the most effective duets involve Baars’ tenor, including “The Staircase Incident”, where between Kneer’s thick string-stopping and the reedist’s jagged and harsh cries, it sounds as if the two – without drums and piano – are attempting a Monk quartet emulation, with the reeedist’s Charlie Rouse-styled lines responding to the unheard other members’ contributions.
Elsewhere the saxophonist can accelerate to Aylerian heights, piling great gouts of notes and extensions into every breath, featuring tongue stops as well as sudden leaps into the altissimo register, while the bassist bows muscularly alongside him. Other tunes suggest the distinctive textures British reeedist Evan Parker brings to tongue flutters and growling cries. But the Dutch players output is more measured, a contrast to the circular breathing of the British saxophonist. Baars’ change of pace is likely the result of the pitch-slides, slaps and col legno undercurrents from the bassist which ground and centre the other’s improvisations.
Someone whose instrumental command is as notable as Parker’s, but who spreads his expertise over a lengthening collection of reeds, is Golia. Some of his droned, tongued or vibrated timbres here can be attributed to such easily identifiable instruments as baritone saxophone or flute; others appear linked to unusual tonal extensions, produced by pushing expected reed properties to their limits, resulting in bagpipe-like textures or those which could be produced by two chromatic pipes blown simultaneously. No matter which texture appears, Turetzky has the appropriate response to it, either arco or pizzicato, and often in broken chords.
For instance “The Tzadik Dances” mates discursive resonations produced by spiccato and col legno pops against the wood of the bass with swells and squeals from the baritone saxophone. Even as Golia’s multiphonics expand and turn to overblowing honks, the shuffles and double-stopping from the bassist is joined by mouthed sighs, whistles and groans that soon vocally expand Golia’s bag of tricks. Eventually the saxophonist’s low-pitched twitters and snorts are matched by contrapuntal sul ponticello rubs and finalized by a tough wooden slap.
Turetzky’s voice-extensions are put to good use on “That One”, when Golia’s staccato, altissimo-register clarinet or sopranino lines narrow to rapier-thin vibrations and single note peeps. Bottom tones are created by the bassist’s harmonically sophisticated string plucks and wood punches, as well as verbal growls and yowls. Fittingly, harsh stops punctuate the improvisation as well as end it.
With Golia capable of sluicing from below-ground chalumeau snorts to skyscraper-jumping altissimo runs, often congruently, Turetzky’s staccato and spiccato string strategies are always at the ready. Should Golia suddenly surprise by unrolling stuttering split tones or masticated pressures, then the bassist’s technique allows him to create resonating squeaks or bumps depending on the context. “Reading Rumi” for instance, where the reedist’s texture begins with chanter-and-bellows-styled rumbles, continue with peeping flute variations and conclude with subterranean snores from the bass clarinet, don’t faze the bassist. Among sul tasto line curves, thumping friction and knife-sliding string patterns, every chord structure and melody suggestion is met.
Double bass and woodwind duos may still not be that common. Nevertheless with these CDs both Baars and Kneer plus Turetzky and Golia prove they can work magnificently.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Windfall: 1. The Staircase Incident 2. Ant Logics 3.Windfall 4. Wood-wind 5. Long Way Home 6. Bird Talk 7. Insinuated Instability 8. The Pledge 9. Eastern Rudiment 10. Into Philosophy 11. Target Practice
Personnel: Windfall: Ab Baars (tenor saxophone, clarinet, shakuhachi and noh-kan) and Meinrad Kneer (bass)
Track Listing: San Diego: 1. Confucian Conundrum 2.That One! 3. Reading Rumi 4. Meditations and Prayers 5. My Lady Nancy’s Dompe 6. The Tzadik Dances 7. Il Italiano in Turco 8. Phantasmagoria
Personnel: San Diego: Vinny Golia (sopranino and baritone saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet and flute) and Bertram Turetzky (bass and voice)
September 8, 2010
Bobby Bradford Extet
Midnight Pacific Airwaves
Entropy Stereo Records ESR 018
Although Bobby Bradford’s highest profile came during the times he partnered alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman and drummer John Stevens in the 1970s, the cornetist’s most concentrated activity has been in Los Angles, where since the 1960s, he and a few other crusaders have maintained a place for experimental music in Southern California.
The never-previously-issued music here is doubly vital since most of it dates from 1977, during a decade in which Bradford, who turns 75 today, didn’t record commercially. Although Bradford’s usual front-line partner, clarinetist John Carter, is absent, his chair is ably filled by a similar polymath: flutist James Newton, another Angelo, whose influences ranging from New music to Rahsaan Roland Kirk are fully exposed. Local bassist Richard Rehwald is a strong presence, while John Goldsmith, who played with Kirk as well as Sun Ra, is on drums. An additional track, recorded in 2003, matches Bradford with clarinetist Vinny Golia for a reprise of the brass man’s “She”, also played by the quartet. This too is prescient, since the cornetist’s work with Golia in the 1990s provides a link between earlier sound explorers such as him and the multi-reedman and a later generation characterized by bassist Ken Filiano and the Cline brothers.
More distant sounding than the quartet version, the duo “She” offers a unique pan-tonal and staccato variant on the theme, carried in double counterpoint by chalumeau clarinet runs and poignant brass plunger work. With the reedist providing the obbligato, Bradford digs deep for new variations on his own theme, pushing against and then away from the original melody. Irregularly pulsed, this version matches the cornetist’s bugle-calls in the lower register with a falsetto and altissimo counter line from Golia.
Rawer and more overtly Boppish, the quartet version of “She” balances on bell-shaking, rolls and flams from Goldsmith and sharp flute cries from Newton that rough up Bradford’s graceful statement of the melody. Not only does Newton flutter tongue and chirp, but in his interpolations, he produces the sort of parallel multiphonic lines that could have fit in with Kirk’s work. In between split-second quotes from other tunes, Bradford maintains ownership of his composition while subtly altering it. His rubato variations use paused pulses and triple-tonguing to stretch out the lines and measures which eventually contract back into the shape of the initial theme.
The other tracks reveal the quartet’s affiliations which stay true to the bedrock jazz continuum of Coleman and Thelonious Monk. Utilizing call-and-response, shout choruses as well as irregularly pitched and shaped timbres, the squeak-and-peep from Newton’s flute and the waves of low-brass sputters from Bradford remain firmly grounded thanks to pinches and rubs on the bassist’s strings and the drummer’s resounding snare patterns. Equally lyrical and sympathetic, the band advances the sounds without alienating – and maintains the understated intelligence that has continued to characterize Bradford’s influential work both playing and composing during the subsequent decades.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Comin’ On 2. She 3. Blue Monk 4. Improvisation #12 5. She (duo)*
Personnel: Bobby Bradford (cornet); James Newton (flute); Vinny Golia (clarinet)*; Richard Rehwald (bass) and John Goldsmith (drums)
July 19, 2009
IAN SMITH/SIMON H. FELL/HARRIS EISENSTADT
Bruces Fingers BF 58
Nine Winds NWCD0237
Having established himself with hard work as an in-demand percussionist and band leader in Los Angeles, Toronto-born Harris Eisenstadt is branching out. Hes traveling to the East Coast, Europe and Africa to match wits with his improvising contemporaries and writing more involved compositions for larger ensembles.
K3 is an example of the former, where he hooks up with British-born bassist Simon H. Fell, who now lives in France, and Dublin-born, London-based trumpeter Ian Smith. Conversely the Ahimsa Orchestra is a local project, featuring the percussionist, conductor Omid Zoufonoun and two differently constituted, 12-piece ensembles running through two of Eisenstadts compositions, the three-part Non-Violence and the four-section Relief. Kudos must go to the young drummer for attempting different projects. However, while he fits comfortably with Smith and Fell, his reach seems to have exceeded his grasp with the 67-minute CD by the band named with Mahatma Gandhis word for enemy-loving non-violence.
Throughout the parts are greater than their sum, since some of the West Coasts most accomplished, outsides players including trumpeters Dan Clucas and Kris Tiner, tubaist Mark Weaver, reedists Vinny Golia, Kyle Bruckmann and Sara Schoenbeck, guitarist Noah Phillips, and trapsmen Alex Cline and Eisenstadt himself
get to show off their skills.
Unfortunately, the surrounding through-composed passages are non-connective and nearly threadbare. Orphan riffs are one thing, but when they resemble intermezzos and leitmotifs that cant decide whether to be impressionistic or early 20th century classical, chutzpah takes the place of coherence.
Probably the best playing comes in the last section of the second suite when several countermelodies featuring Ellen Barrs flute, Clucas muted trumpet and Bill Casales pulsating bass give way to an undulating stentorian tuba solo from Weaver thats perfectly backed by bounces and flams from Eisenstadt. When the drummer turns to a more conventional rhythm, the trumpeters tremolo trills shine, suggesting that Relief IV may be a postlude rather than a proper climax.
Earlier in the same suite, driven by the rattles and rims shots from the understated percussion of the composer and Cline, massed orchestral harmonies give way to a squirming clarinet solo from Brain Walsh and a glottal lower register bassoon line from Schoenbeck that precede an conclusive crescendo. Splayed, cross-sawed textures from guitarist Phillips follow bell resonation from the percussionists, with both players rolling and rumbling through the penultimate thematic variation as sputtered split tones and pitch-sliding vibrations courtesy of Walsh and Golia produce diffuse harmonies. Still, despite Weavers obbligato and a horn crescendo, the overall impression is cold because the compositional glue holding the piece together seems to be lacking.
Its the same story with Non-Violence despite some harmonic coloration created by a piccolo-trumpet tremor, valve twisting plunger work from trombonist Toyoji Tomita, reed squeaks and aviary twitters and sophisticated bass drum spots and reverberating cymbal parts from Eisenstadt. Here the connective material appears even more prettified than on the subsequent composition. Simultaneously though, theres too little of it as well, often exposing the disconnected motifs among the yowling, rubato reed and brass timbres.
The situation was more balanced a year earlier at Londons Klinker club during the trio meeting. A memento of the drummers visit to the United Kingdom, Eisenstadts apparently more relaxed in the improvisational role on the four instant compositions here. Fell, who is has been a consummate combo player for years as well as being an ambitious composer is an asset in any circumstances, but the biggest surprise is Smith.
A far cry from his tentative work from three years previous when he recorded alongside some BritImprov veterans, his confident soloing in all registers of the horn easily allows him to hold up his part of the triangular equation. Perhaps consistent work with the London Improvisers Orchestra, consisting of some of the citys most accomplished improvisers has toughened his chops.
No matter the cause, the spurts of resolute brass timbres with which he decorates his solo on the last three minutes of Voiceless Velar Stop are some of the most impressive trumpeting anywhere. Smith appends a few bent notes as a coda, having been hectored along by steady bowing from Fell and blunt ratamacues from Eisenstadt. Prior to that, the trumpeter moves from audacious mouthpiece tongue kisses to wah-wah buzzes plus clenched teeth slurs; hes so in step with the drummer, that often a tone could be as much brass as percussion.
Imbued with the sprit of older British rhythm makers like Tony Oxley and Roger Turner, Eisenstadt sleekly works his way through his kit, matching heavy knocking on the rims with split-second whispering reverberation, and clanging chains on top of the heads as often as he attacks them full force. Someone who has studied with the griots in Africa, he brings darbuka and djembe hand-drum resonations to other sections, such as an extended work-out on the final track which contrasts nicely with Fells legato, Europeanized bowed notes.
Able to express spiccato vibrations with the same ease as walking, the bassists string organization encompasses buzzing sul tasto excursions and sections where he moves the tonal centre with polyrhythmic scratches and reverb. Strumming and sometimes nearly in slap bass territory, Fell is never at a loss as to how to rebound the pulse back and forth to the others. Plus the trumpeter is there to let loose with anything including sonorous pedal tones, purring valve whistling, fowl-like quacks, speedy brass bites and plunger whines.
Maybe one day Eisenstadt can translate his impressive performing and compositional talent from small combos to larger ones. Perhaps working with a more compact group would have benefited his conception for the AHIMSA ORCHESTRA. As it stands now though, K3 is a keeper, with the other CD of most interest to those who want to preserve every marker in the drummers accelerating career.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: K3: 1. Potassium 2. 1024 Words 3. Voiceless Velar Stop 4. The Unit Vector Along the Z-Axis
Personnel: K3: Ian Smith (trumpet); Simon H. Fell (bass); Harris Eisenstadt (percussion)
Track Listing: Ahimsa: Non-Violence: 1. I 2. II 3. III Relief: 4. I 5. II 6. III 7. IV
Tracks 1-3: Liz Allbee and Kris Tiner (trumpet); Toyoji Tomita (trombone); Phillip Greenlief (b-flat clarinet); Kyle Bruckmann (oboe); Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon); Steve Adams (C flute); Bill Horvitz and Noah Phillips (guitars); George Cremaschi (bass); David Branddt (vibraphone); Harris Eisenstadt (percussion); Omid Zoufonoun (conductor) Tracks 4-7: Dan Clucas (trumpet); George McMullen (trombone); Mark Weaver (tuba); Brian Walsh (b-flat clarinet); Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon); Vinny Golia (bass clarinet); Ellen Burr (C flute); Phillips (guitar); Jessica Catron (cello); Bill Casale (bass); Eisenstadt and Alex Cline (percussion); Omid Zoufonoun (conductor)
January 30, 2006
NELS CLINE/VINNY GOLIA
The Entire Time
Nine Winds NWCD 0259
RICK HELZER/VINNY GOLIA
Fancy Meeting You Here
Nine Winds NWCD 0224
Unforced collaborations between friends, these duo sessions illuminate the tactical differences needed when approaching any one-on-one free music interaction. Palpably, the strategy involves more than a categorical acknowledgement that one of the multi-reed master Vinny Golias partners is a pianist; the other a guitarist.
In spite of everything after all, both are chordal players faced with Golias stack of horns, which in pianist Rick Helzers case includes soprillo, sopranino, soprano, tenor and bass saxophones, saxello and contra bass flute, and on the CD with guitarist Alex Cline, introduce curved soprano, soprano and tenor saxophones, alto flute, bass clarinet, stritch, saxophone, xiao and dzi.
No, the real differences between these sessions is the academic verses the intuitive approach and intuitive knowledge verses musical friendship. Although Helzer, associate director of Jazz Studies, Theory and Piano at San Diego State University isnt an ivory tower academic he has performed with different touring jazz groups over the past 25 years -- his note placement and sound choices are neat and buttoned-down during the 13 tracks of the almost 74-minute FANCY MEETING YOU HERE a title that may be more definitive than jocular.
Similarly, despite his present membership in Wilco, and gigs with everyone from proto-punker Lydia Lunch to progressive music vibist Gregg Bendian, Cline, who plays electric 6 and 12-string guitars, nylon-string acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic, effects pedal loops and megamouth on THE ENTIRE TIME isnt your typical freelance guitar rocker. Encompassing references to evolutionary post-modern jazz, the CD is a summation of 26 years of on-and-off collaboration between him and the reedist. He was also a member of Golias quartet/quintet in the 1990s.
During the course of the performance, the two take advantage of as many axes as they can, as on Divining, the CDs first, and, at almost 14 minutes, longest track. Here Clines effects pedal and loops make an atmospheric bed beneath the basso tones of Golias Oriental reed, adding electronic interference when the other switches to bass clarinet to produce wavering, lower-register split tones. Still, as can be expected from long time partners, often Clines 12-string licks almost mirror the swift clarinet smears, as finger picking reveb adds more drama to the reeds flutter tonguing.
Parallel improvising continues during the almost 67 minutes of the disc until Destination Deeth, the final track. Using his effects pedal, loops and megamouth (sic), the guitarist produces abrasive scraped effects that mix with smeared flutter tonguing of Golias bass clarinet. Role reversal occurs during the exposition, as Cline fires microtones up and down the neck and the reedists wide vibrato follows behind. Roughly avoiding note collision, the two unite for watery flanges and almost bell-ringing pulses on the guitarists part and false registers and fluttered notes on Golias. Clines wavering waveforms then reverberate with pulsating delay as Golias squeaks, growls and tongue slaps meld with a staccato guitar line.
At the same time while some of the more outré improv makes it seems as if Golias bamboo flute has caused Cline to pull out a pipa, jazz inflections are never far from the surface. Not only does the saxophonist play stritch and tenor saxophone simultaneously on Opus de Kirkus (for Rahsaan Roland Kirk), with slurred arpeggios meeting Clines frailing fills, but the fretman has also overdubbed the sound of sirens, birds and broken glass to further honor Kirk. Meanwhile, For Oliver Lake, written by Cline in 1977, moves from a pseudo March tempo to open up with intricate slurred fingering from the composer and surging burrs and trills from Golias curved soprano sax.
Proof that these impulses are still current despite Clines rock-orientation and Golias sometime preference for atonal sounds is shown in the two versions of Smooth Surface, the Canals On the first, the reedmans Braxtonian irregular vibrations and expansive legato tone turns to triple tonguing as the guitarists chromatic strums become speedier and more tremolo. As heavy strokes from rapid flat picking change into focused slurred fingering, Golia responds with overblown trills and buzzy honks. Smooth
s second run through is even more intense with soprano notes held longer and the guitar frailing harsher and harder. Matching flamenco-like downstrokes and guitar body percussion pounding, Cline spurs Golia to more expansive reed biting trills and slurs.
Nothing on FANCY MEETING YOU HERE is that liberating, but the pianist does expose an intriguing codicil in Golias work. Although some collaborative instant compositions and ones written singly by either man stretch out to this side of dissonance, the majority of the pianists own tunes are so wedded to traditional freebop that many of the saxophonists other improvisations leach into the so-called jazz field.
Silent Voices and the two versions of Blue Sphere, all Helzer lines for example, could with little prompting fit on many progressive mainstream CDs. On the first, Golia on tenor saxophone plays a restrained, light-toned solo as the piano mans fingering is so tonic that he could be creating an equal temperament etude. His sweeping pinpoint note clusters evolve in an unforced Bill Evans-like style. Similarly Blue Sphere is a gentle swinger that could have come from the pen of Gigi Gryce or Benny Golson. As Helzer exercises clear-sounding patterned arpeggios, Golia drones a continuum from the bass flute that, following the outline of the piece, take on tuba qualities. The continuation of the line as the CDs final track finds the flute tones overshadowed by beautifully shaped notes from the pianist that slip and slide into high-frequency tremolos.
Instructively, Lets All Sing the Arnold Griffith Song, an instant composition slotted in between the two Spheres, resembles a bastard boogie woogie with the pianist contributing some foot patting vamps and the tenor saxophonist a snoring, heavy vibrato in his playing that is probably the closest he comes to the Coleman Hawkins-Ben Webster school on record.
Even the two run-throughs of Golias 1st in the Fast Walking Julius Trilogy appear to revolve around jazz-like time with Helzers strumming arpeggio-laden fingering almost blurring as he works his way through the tune. Eventually, in the first version, Golias screechy, snaky sopranino lines turn to split-tone vibrations and peeping reed biting as the pianists splintered notes coalesce into double counterpoint with Golias glissandi. 1st In
(part 2) picks up the swing vibe from the pianists walking bass line and faster, screechier, broken chords from the reedist. As Helzer outlines metronomic high frequency notes the improvisational flow between the two finds Golia trilling a gentle counter line of completed possibilities as the two reprise the initial theme and its variations a coda.
Unfortunately the reality of working out on 13 tunes for almost 74 minutes weakens some of the piano-reed ESP, a quality thats much more apparent on THE ENTIRE TIME. Unsurprisingly, Golias auteur sessions with his own combo and big band are superior, but both these discs are superior examples of his duo work.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Fancy: 1. You Tell 'Em Kwai-Chung 2. Are We There Yet? 3. I Just Get Dizzy Watching You
4. 1st in the Fast Walking Julius Trilogy 5. All Upset About the Kirwood Dirby 6. 1st In the Fast Walking Julius Trilogy (part 2) 7. The Insidious Tortures of Brian Henderson 8. Silent Voices 9. Lets All Sing the Arnold Griffith Song 10. Sub Code (for 5 soprillo saxophones) 11. Blue Sphere 12. Green on Purple 13. Blue Sphere (reprise)
Personnel: Fancy: Vinny Golia (soprillo, sopranino, soprano, tenor and bass saxophones, saxello and contra bass flute); Rick Helzer (piano)
Track Listing: Entire: 1. Divining 2. City Snow Stories 3. For Oliver Lake 4. The Tiny Boxes Speak Her Name 5. Smooth Surface, the Canals one 6. Opus de Kirkus (for Rahsaan Roland Kirk) 7. Fond Remberances for Luther Talbot 8. Smooth Surface, the Canals two 9. Destination Deeth
Personnel: Entire: Vinny Golia (curved soprano, soprano and tenor saxophones, alto flute, bass clarinet, stritch, saxophone, xiao, dzi); Nels Cline (electric 6 and 12-string guitars, nylon-string acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic, effects pedal, loops and megamouth)
July 24, 2005
JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET
Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic
pfMentum CD 013
Maybe its something in the water earthquake run off perhaps? but its evident that an awfully large number of Southern Californian improvisers are forming themselves into larger groups.
Oh sure SoCal has always had large groups usually studio-musician staffed dream bands or kicks bands that play the arrangements of Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton or Count Basie. But these newer ensembles work out a way that multiple players can mix freeform improvisation with conducted, polyphonic work.
Los Angeles-based multi-reedist Vinny Golia organized a succession of large groups over the years, drummer Adam Rudolph has his Organic Orchestra and drummer Moe Staiano his MOE!kestra. Percussionist Nathan Hubbards Skeleton Key Orchestra is in San Diegos, and trumpeter Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet, featured here, is a fixture in Ventura.
Kaiser, whose 19-piece aggregation includes West Coast pacesetters like Golia, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and acoustic guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, demonstrates the pros and cons of these kinds of sessions with this CD.
Inventive, well orchestrated and staffed with as many exceptional soloists as youd find anywhere, THEMES FOR A TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIC is no surprise a 13-section suite. Built around 13, cleverly titled compositions that run from slightly more than a minute to less than nine minute, there are few tutti passages and plenty of room for nearly every player to express herself or himself, solo or in duos and choirs.
However, at a titch over 73 minutes in length, the performance seems to be nearly endless. At points the listener is reduced to voyeur, adding up the themes and instrumental outbreaks as they lumber by. Furthermore, local support apparently allows the band to record at Ventura City Hall. The size and properties of the room arent noted, but its no recording studio. Solos and passages are frequently dampened, with the sonorous timbres of tuba player Mark Weaver suffering the most.
From the stirrings offbeat harmonies of the first theme: My Uncle Tobys Apologetical Oration, which sounds sort of like an out-of-tune Mariachi Christmas carol with its massed brass and crashing cymbals to I wish My Uncle Toby Had Been a Water-drinker, track number 13, theres much to like here. The finale, for instance, features Tom McNalley, G.E. Stinson, or perhaps both guitarists, blasting out speedy distorted reverb, while drummer Richie West lays on the backbeat and Wayne Peet resonates organ lines over the horn section that references Jimmy Smiths big band sessions. Finally a menagerie of duck quacks, honks and rattles from all concerned allow the piece to slink away.
Using polyharmony and polyphony, Kaisers themes sneak and shuffle around one another, or are built up in layers, with squeaking reeds, for instance, playing on top of contrapuntal clarinet tremolos and sliced by guitar counterlines. Appropriately as well, the orchestral voicing clears away just in time for impassioned cadenzas from suitable soloists.
One who always impresses is trombonist Vlatkovich. An associate of Kaiser, in his own Brass Trio, and in Golias projects, his avant-tailgate slurs are put to good use here. Most excitingly, his braying rubato lines and the trumpeters hocketing screeches hook up to drizzle heraldic notes on top of bell-ringing percussion and the reed section moving forward in lockstep.
Multi-reedist Golia is one of those reed players. At different times his snorting baritone saxophone fills add fiber to the other woodwinds or his buzzing bass clarinet lines take off in double counterpoint against another soloist. The Beverly Hills-based player also contributes sparse vibrations from sopranino or clarinet to link up The Accusing Spirit Which Flew Up to Heavens Chancery with one trumpeter Kaiser, Dan Clucas, Kris Tiner? who screams himself into Cat Anderson dog-whistle territory. This takes place on top of lumbering unison chords that sound as if theyve just migrated in from one of Anthony Braxtons Ghost Trance pieces, with Weavers whinnying tuba and Brad Dutz rumbling kettle drums peeking through the quasi-march tempo.
Nimble, high pitched flute work that introduce other tracks may come from Emily Hay however, and when expressive, slurring multiphonics are needed to segment or enliven rhythm section heavy passages, the go-to guys are likely alto saxophonist Jason Mears or soprano and tenor saxophonist Eric Barber no soloists are identified.
Making their presence felt among the parlando cadenzas that make up some of the other sound pictures, by virtue of being the only player on his or her instrument, certain musicians are more easily identifiable. Weaver for instance is able to use his lowing tuba to work up a powerful mid-section vamp on an early number, ricocheting smears that stand out from staccato percussion underpinning.
Diaz-Infante gets to sound his distinctive patterning over the strings, beneath the bridge and up near the tuning pegs on the penultimate track. And, throughout, if its West, who is responsible for the perfectly timed tap dance-like drum solos, then percussionist Dutz should be credited for the cymbal claps and tick-tock small instrument accents that appear elsewhere.
Adding to the polyphonic writing that revolves around a tonal centre, are massed crescendos and decrescendos, which often move the band into the compositions next section. Continuum is provided by bubbling loops and fluttering reverb, courtesy of Peets electronics and theremin.
In short, big band fanciers of the free music variety should be impressed by this session, and those who cower at the number 13 may be cured of their phobia if they hear it. Analysing the overall sound however, the only superstition that you hope Kaiser and his large groups avoid in the future is fear of recording studios.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. My Uncle Tobys Apologetical Oration 2. Gravity Was an Errant Scoundrel 3. This Sweet Fountain of Science 4. The Curates Folly Betwixt Them 5. Devout, Venerable, Hoary-headed Man, Meekly Holding Up a Box 6. The Strangers Nose was No More Heard Of 7. Uncle Toby Understood The Nature Of a Parabola 8. The Accusing Spirit Which Flew Up to Heavens Chancery 9. A Thousand of My Fathers Most Subtle Syllogisms 10. His Life Was Put in Jeopardy by Words 11. The Heat and Impatience of His Thirst 12. Nothing But the Fermentation 13. I wish My Uncle Toby Had Been a Water-drinker
Personnel: Jeff Kaiser (conductor and trumpet); Dan Clucas, Kris Tiner (trumpets); Michael Vlatkovich (trombone); Eric Sbar (euphonium and valve-trombone); Mark Weaver (tuba); Lynn Johnston (soprano and alto saxophones, clarinet and alto clarinet); Vinny Golia (sopranino, soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinets, flute and bass flute); Jason Mears (alto saxophone); Eric Barber (soprano and tenor saxophones); Emily Hay (flutes); Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic guitar); Tom McNalley (guitar); G.E. Stinson (guitar and electronics); Wayne Peet (organ, theremin and electronics); Jim Connolly and Hal Onserud (basses); Richie West (drums and percussion); Brad Dutz (percussion)
May 16, 2005
Eight Shorts in Search of David Lynch
ToneScience TS 7002
Sort of a modern day Thomas Alva Edison, Los Angeles-based guitarist Johnnie Valentino takes a practical approach to the somewhat esoteric concept of sound design. True to the functional philosophy of the Wizard of Menlo Park, Valentino mostly uses manipulated sounds in his day job, scoring and providing sonic textures for animated TV shows and feature films.
This CD is another matter, however. Its a high art application of his collection of found sounds far removed from the tone designs he provides for sci-fi and childrens products such as Alvin & The Chipmunks, The New Archies or Wonder Boys. It proves that a musician with ingenuity can compartmentalize his creations, using some for art and others for commerce.
An Easterner like Edison, Valentino has been operating like this for years. A Philadelphia native, he studied privately with Dennis Sandole, John Coltranes teacher, as well as taking composition at Rutgers University while doing local club dates, recording sessions for Philly World Records and gigs in Atlantic City. In L.A. since 1984, hes recorded with top improvisers like guitarist Pat Martino, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and multi-reedist Vinny Golia, the last of whom is featured on three tracks here.
Essentially, EIGHT SHORTS is made up of the musicians playing live in the studio using Valentino-created abstract sound beds as springboards for improvisations. As can be expected from the title and his background, the results are cinematic, but mostly in an experimental un-Hollywood fashion, all the way down to titles. As the guitarist says, If you dont like the names of the tracks, make up your own.
Especially memorable is a track like Unveiled, a duet for Golias flute and Valentinos guitar, seemingly suspended bird-like over raunchy thunderclouds and bubbling forest streams. In between fripple manipulations and offbeat chording, the soundscape brings up growls, yelps and other potential wild animal tones and a coda of dripping water.
Other CD helpmates include such certified New York downtowners as cellist Erik Friedlander, known for his work with John Zorn; drummer Mike Sarin, who has been part of bands led by bassist Mark Helias and pianist Myra Melford; and trumpeter Russ Johnson, co-leader of The Other Quartet. Then theres pianist and percussionist Mick Rossi, who employers have included trumpeter Dave Douglas, composer Philip Glass [!] and soft-rockers Hall & Oates [!!].
Rossis dual skills are put to good use in pieces like Vessel, where wheezing background textures, sometimes extended with muezzin-like cries and what could be rooster crows feature non-specific pitchsliding brass tones. Moving between keyboard timbres and stopped internal piano action, the pianist gives Valentino additional accents on which he can prop his metallic finger picking and scattered amp loops, scattering and shattering fluttering found sounds.
Friedlanders contributions encompass legit glissandi and song-like spiccato episodes. The soul of modesty, Sarin mostly confines himself to scattered cracks and knocks and off-centre rambling beats, while Golias buzzing bass clarinet, provides alternating swelling and wavering backdrops for low-key pianisms mixed with discursive side band tones.
Johnson offers plunger work seemingly unfazed by pulsating waveforms of droning buzzes and corkscrew mutations at one point, or screeches out brassy triplets over pedal point tuba sounds from Randy Jones cymbal splatters and uncommon bounces from Sarin elsewhere. This whirling brass line gives Valentino a context in which to display rock-style guitar reverb.
Picturesque can only go so far with shorts, whether they are cinematic or sonic, as other tracks show. As well, a couple of tunes could have been left on the cutting room floor.
Especially unfortunate are the two or is it one? which feature wordless vocals from Elissa Lala. While vocal sounds almost mesh with eastern-inflected flute textures and sampled tabla sounds on one track, the other tune is virtually engulfed in shapeshifting sidebands that resonate with thunderous wave and seagull sounds. Low-frequency piano chords and chromatic trumpet lines may gently complement one another as does the whispering vocalese, but when finger-style guitar is added to the mix the result is too syrupy. Middle-of-the-road orchestral fluff featuring Earl Klughish guitar licks may work for a romantic love scene on screen, but this audio-only output is too cloying when compared to the advanced sound work Valentino exhibits elsewhere.
Perhaps these shorts wont find David Lynch. Perhaps they shouldnt. Most of the way through this CD however, the guitarist has produced intelligent, practical, sound designs with that can be appreciated as is, without visuals.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Ambiguity 2. Exploration 3. Under Current*+# 4. Components 5. Vessel^~$ 6. Verge^ 7. Unveiled 8. Concrete Irrationality$
Personnel: Russ Johnson (trumpet) [tracks 2, 4, 5, 8]; Randy Jones (tuba) [track 2]; Vinny Golia (bass clarinet, flute) [tracks 3, 6, 7]; Johnnie Valentine (guitar, ukulele* and mandolin*); Mick Rossi (piano^, prepared piano~, drums$, percussion+ and tabla samples+); Erik Friedlander (cello); Mike Sarin (drums); Elissa Lala (voice)#
April 18, 2005
A Gift for the Unusual -- Music for Contrabass Saxophone
Nine Winds NWCD 0239
At this late date youd figure that there werent (m)any reeds left for Los Angeles sax maven Vinny Golia to play, let alone master. Yet the 11 tracks on this CD show the many paths a veteran improviser can follow when breaking in a new axe -- in case a specially built Eb contrabass saxophone.
Developed by instrument maker Benedict Eppelsheim in Munich, Germany, and also called the tubax, its lighter and more responsive than the conventional contrabass saxophone, but offers the same power and depth. Swiss reedman Peter A. Schmid is its only other well-known practitioner.
Calling on five associates and a bit of studio trickery, Golia showcases the reed in a variety of solo, duo and trio situations. The results are mixed. While many of the tracks sparkle with the conjunction of distinctive reed gymnastics and textures from other instruments, a couple of times, Golia is so enamored with his new acquisition that he buries himself in technical exercises. The situation is further exacerbated by some jumbled personnel listings. It turns out that some sidepeople appear on tracks later or before theyre listed on the sleeve.
On the plus side are pieces like The Mozart of Vice, Eye My and The 15th . The last features bassist Bill Casale on deep-toned shuffle bass and Wayne Peet on wheezing theremin and oscillating synthesizer whose ghostly swipes produce a sci-fi soundtrack-like backing. In contrast to these extraterrestrial sound textures are subterraneous pitches vibrating from the contrabass sax that become so powerful that they overcome sounds from the cosmos. As the synth loops and ponticello bass chords try to maintain their place, Golias tubax tone sinks lower and lower until his slurs resemble a dense mass.
Eye My on the other hand could be termed outside swing, as honky-tonk piano voicing that follow their own internal logic mix it up with stentorian blats from the contrabass saxophone. Borne upon faint walking bass accompaniment, Peets high frequency flashing arpeggios and cascading chords make a unique rhythm team with Golias double tonguing bass clef explorations.
Double counterpoint appears on The Mozart of Vice, where Casales double-stopping walking bass lines and Golias firmly vibrated sax notes take a back seat to blustery trombone lines from Michael Vlatkovich. Blusy but airy, the trombonists verbalized nonsense syllables meet tubax snorts and smears as the two low-pitched horns meld into a single, elongated tone. With Peet comping behind him, Golia finally breaks loose to produce even deeper tones.
Adding the tubax to Peet on organ and Bill Barrett on chromatic harmonica for Once upon a time on the way to the studio is a bit iffier. While the keyboardists church organ-like continuum provides a proper improvisational pattern, the contrasts between the massive, utterly-modern sax slurs and rasping harmonica timbres that are as simple as those played by Sonny Terry is too immense to overcome.
Even more technical exercises by Golia alone fare even worse. Moving quickly from blustery, watery pitches to reed-chewing portamento tones seems to lack anything more than hubris, as does the penultimate piece which features buzzing, split-tone screams at one point and prolonged, circular-breathing bellows at another. Techniques on show, which include a collection of snorts, quick-breaths and tongue pops may impress professional woodwind players -- as they should -- but the sense of story telling obvious in other tunes is missing.
So too is it lacking on the one track which finds Golia demonstrating his new axes extreme capacity by overdubbing five different tubax parts, then outputting every imaginable timbre from earth-shaking low to grainy, sprawling high. At points the five phantom reeds free themselves from the shifting protoplasmic bulk to be heard clearly playing single parts, but studio wizardry shouldnt be an end in itself.
In short, A GIFT FOR THE UNUSUAL is perfect for long-time Golia followers or reed demons of every stripe. However, for most of us, the exceptional tracks here show that the tubaxs suppleness is best heard in a group context.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Single Booth Enclosure - Prime 2. Repetition 3. Mr. Ammons Builds His Bridge 4. Eye My 5. Single Booth Enclosure - Revisitation 6. The Mozart of Vice 7. The 15th 8. Just Something I Thought of 9. Once upon a time on the way to the studio 10. A history of everything that ever happened 11. The last of its kind
Personnel: Michael Vlatkovich (trombone); Vinny Golia (contrabass saxophone); Wayne Peet (piano, organ, electric piano, theremin and synthesizer); Bill Barrett (chromatic harmonica); Jessica Catron (cello); Bill Casale (bass)
February 7, 2005
Vinny Golia Quartet
booklet notes for Clean Feed CF 036CD
Texas-raised trumpeter Bobby Bradford has long been associated with idiosyncratic reed players. Most people know him as the brassman in an important -- but little recorded -- version of Ornette Colemans Quartet in the early 1960s; others recall his long partnership with the late clarinetist John Carter with whom he recorded a series of memorable, interrelated LPs in the 1970s and 1980s.
Just as noteworthy however has been his decades-long collaboration with multi-woodwind player Vinny Golia, live and on record, the most recent of which is displayed in glorious fashion on this CD.
Like Bradford, with whom he hooked up with in Los Angeles, Golia is a non-Californian who has adopted the Golden State as his home. Bronx, N.Y.-born Golia, who is also a visual artist, is famed for his impressive command of nearly every member of the reed family -- more than two dozen and counting when last heard. Hes also a doer, who from his base in Beverly Hills -- an address known for anything but musical innovation -- has nurtured, employed and recorded scores of young and/or under-appreciated creative improvisers from all parts of the North American West Coast.
Drummer Alex Cline and Angelo-turned-Brooklynite bassist Ken Filiano, featured on this CD, are two of those musicians. Besides impressive work in other contexts, both have been part of various Golia groups, ranging from combos to big bands, for at least two decades. Sfumato, the CD, named for a painting technique coined by Leonardo da Vinci and used in his master works such as the Mona Lisa, is a particularly fine example of this mature quartets interactive art.
The disc was recorded in Lisbon, just before the band participated in Jazz ao Centro - Encontros Internacionais de Coimbra - 2003, a festival that takes place in a location two hours drive north of the Portuguese capital. Obviously pumped for what proved to be an enthusiastically received performance, the band members give their all on Sfumato, which features nine of Golias distinctive compositions. It also provides the composer with a peerless showcase in which to demonstrate his prowess on sopranino and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, G piccolo and contrabass flute.
Sfumato, the visual arts term, is mutated from the Italian words for smoke and blended. The procedure overlays translucent layers of color to create perceptions of depth, volume and form -- blending these attributes so subtly that theres no perceptible transition between one and another.
Visual artist-turned musician Golia obviously grasps and values that style, and musically he utilizes it on the compositions here. Many are built on attractive blends between brass and reeds, while extended string and percussion techniques frequently add to the available palate.
Longer compositions such as Transition of Power and All Together Now are particularly fine examples of this. With space available, the reedist can utilize the timbres of more than one horn in sequence, without upsetting the sfumato implicit in the compounding of Bradfords often half-valve work and his own reeds, not to mention the astute brushstrokes -- in the drummers case literally -- applied from Cline and Filiano.
Transition of Power for instance, features Brafords grace notes flirting with exotica so that it sounds as if he could be playing a radung or Tibetan trumpet. Meanwhile, on top of a bass and drum overlay, Golia contributes contrabass flute lines -- alternating parts with the trumpeter. His later soprano saxophone solo take its cues from mid-period John Coltrane, exhibiting slinky, Arabic pigmentation, without resorting to shrill tones. Together, Cline and Filiano contribute daubs of polyrhythmic counterpoint, until the horns once again meld into a single brush stroke to take the piece out.
All Together Now, another definition of cooperation, features hocketing bass clarinet timbres, sul ponticello bass lines and double-timed grace notes from the trumpet. Applying pointillistic techniques, the players slide from double, triple and quadruple counterpoint to passages featuring broken cadenzas. Especially notable are the intimations of military bugle-like tattoos from Bradford and echoing, cavernous sluices from Golia.
Just as da Vinci had his irrefutable influences as an artist so do the band members as musicians. While Golias initial playing opportunity was with Anthony Braxton, echoes of the influential Coleman Quartet and the initial New Thing era turn up often, especially since hes working with Bradford in a quartet situation.
Unsurprisingly because of the title, this stylistic tick is most apparent on That was for Albert Phase 3 and That was for Albert Phase 5. But with no one playing either tenor or alto saxophone the links to Albert Ayler and/or Coleman arent that obvious. The later tune is a demonstration by Filiano of subtle but spectacular advanced arco and pizzicato work, an extension of what had been attempted by Coleman bassists -- and Bradford band mates -- Jimmy Garrison and David Izenzon in the 1960s. Oddly though, Golias floating flute line seems more related to the work of the almost forgotten Giuseppi Logan, while it appears that Bradford is mimicking Donald Aylers intentional primitivism on the first version of the song. No one, however, could mistake Cline and Filianos work for that of Milford Graves and Gary Peacock from years past.
Interestingly enough, NBT-take 2 also has Coleman Quartet echoes in its irregularly voiced call-and-response twitters and textures from the horns. But with Golia emphasizing the metallic quality of his sax and Bradfords soaring brass voice more serene in maturity now that hes at almost 70, than it was with Coleman years ago, in truth this quartet sounds nothing like the Coleman combo.
In fact, thats what most distinguishes Sfumato from other CDs and makes it so memorable. It isnt a retread or a tribute to any one musician or style, nor is it an attempt to create currently fashionable sounds. Instead its an object lesson in how painterly positioning of each members overlaid color contributions can produce a sonorous session whose individual attributes blend subtly into a complete whole.
January 15, 2005
Find the Burrow and Bury Your Head
On the cusp of fire and water
Red Toucan RT 9324
Ad hoc trio sessions featuring a multi-reed player and a strong West Coast orientation, these CDs show how different players approach improvisation.
Linking Andrew Voigt former member of the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Morgan Guberman, a quirky soundsinger and electric bassist -- both from the Bay area -- and Ian Davis, a resourceful percussionist from North Carolina, at home in settings ranging from duos to large ensembles, FIND THE BURROW AND BURY YOUR HEAD follows a minimalist path.
Recorded less than four months earlier, ON THE CUSP OF FIRE AND WATER has a more playful bent. This is probably due to the presence of former Angelo and present day Amsterdam resident, drummer Michael Vatcher, who brings his air horn and pop gun to the session along with his ideas. His partners in the endeavor are Vinny Golia, whose command of nearly every reed instrument extant involves him with most creative music making in the Los Angles area; and bass guitarist Steuart Liebig, who despite the usual pop-orientation of his axe, has been onside with experimenters like percussionist Gregg Bendian. Not long ago he also recorded POMERGRANTE, his own impressive large ensemble CD, for Cryptogramophone.
Numinous Opossum makes clear during the session that to its three members, the journey is more important than the destination -- and you can respect them for that. Still, more variations in timbre and inflection could have given the trip multiform scenery and make it seem less like a bus ride through miles of flat prairie.
Davis odd metered percussion at times adds some protuberance as does Gubermans distinctive mouth-and-throat vocalizing. But despite his horn collection --- that includes flute, and bass flute, sopranino and alto saxophones -- Voigt keeps everything on an even keel. Certainly when the near-stillness of his flute playing begins to resemble the ceremonial sound of a cross-blown Chinese dizi, stasis isnt far off. Other times the sonorous flute flights move from the Far to the Middle East. Much more impressive are those tunes where a long unsegmented reed timbre seems to have an electronic drone accompanying it, only to have the sound be revealed as Davis gradually turning up the pressure on a cymbal with a cross drawn drum stick.
Then theres Blinding Heliotrope, where bluebird-like trilling tones move up in pitch to chickadee-like multiphonics. Soon rubs and scrapes in the background from both bassist and drummer make it seem as if small animals are loose in the studio and Gubermans throat swallowing and mouth panting extended with internal yodels add to the bestial primitivism.
Jester is a particular display of Davis percussion inventiveness. As Voigt produces chromatic flute runs, the drummer begins tapping single notes from his unattached cymbal. This soon evolves into a duet of wooden stroked tones and tongue slaps which extend still further into disconnected and unstable wavering trills -- arriving from both flute and saxophone. Gubermans electric bass confines itself to low-key rumbling, as the percussionist daintily strokes his cymbals and further manipulates drum pitter-patter probably with his bare hands. Diminuendo finds a legato soprano trill demarcating percussion movements that sound as like folding and unfolding aluminum foil.
Davis is able to introduce new timbres to the almost 22-minute final and title track with sounds that appear to be sand grains being jiggled, tiny bells being shaken and rim shots that mirror the reedists multiphonic echoes and tongue slaps. Still, the tracks length almost defeats everyones inventiveness. Sounds include glottal punctuation, melodious smeared flattement and individual slurs from different staves of the horn from Voigt; ponticello swipes, shuffle bowing and steady thumb pops from Gubermans bass; as well as verbal mumbles, quacks, retches and nonsense syllables from his vocal chords.
No one vocalizes on the other CD, although Vatcher -- who has backed a bunch of Netherlands-based leaders from Dutch pianist Michiel Braam to American reedist Michael Moore -- gives his air horn and popgun an explosive workout on Transit. This is after he uses quick rolls and flams to hold the rollicking beat as Golias double-tonguing and circular breathing continue unperturbed. Liebig somehow manages to produce arco [!] fills as well as resonating country picking strums on Aftermath, as Vatcher switches from irregular jumping rhythms to beboppy cymbal work. Meanwhile the reedist warbles a repetitive melody, then downshifts to smears.
Interestingly enough, like Voigt on the other disc, his improvising on flute -- and especially the stritch, which sounds like an off-pitch alto saxophone -- sometimes takes on an Arabic cast.
When Golia emphasizes this orientation, as he does on Prelude, it isnt long before hes buzzing out some cross-blown tones, with the facility of Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- jazzs acknowledged stritch master. This sound intersects with Vatchers scraped cymbal accompaniment and a secondary ponticello line from Liebigs bass. As the piece speeds up, the bassist creates a complimentary counterline with looping reverb that could be coming from a guitar rather than a bass. Leaving the stentorian beat to Liebigs axe, Golia trills with a pleasantly nasal quality that soars more than it drones, and Vatcher batters out a semi-swing beat.
Undertow, at almost 20½ minutes, fares better than Numinous Opossums almost 22 minute Find the Burrow and Bury your Head, as each trio member tries to come up with unexpected tones. Vatcher goes from rattling temple bells and rolling glass armonica textures to bass drum resonation and a cymbal-crashing backbeat, while Liebig flat picks a steady line that leeches into rock territory. Meanwhile Golia seems to instantaneously switch from quivering, high-pitched stritch pitches to mellow flute timbres and then onto mid-range circular breathing from the clarinet. The piece reaches a crescendo with the reedist squeezing out sharp trills and irregular split tones. Coupled with a hocketing bass lines, the sound finally dissipates into a single vibrated tone.
Two trios, two conceptions
both are worth investigating.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Burrow: 1. An Aperitif? 2. Requisition 3. Jester 4. Milk-eyed Rat 5. Blinding Heliotrope 6. Dream of the Matador 7. Find the Burrow and Bury your Head
Personnel: Burrow: Andrew Voigt (flute, and bass flute, sopranino and alto saxophones); Morgan Guberman (electric bass and voice); Ian Davis (percussion)
Track Listing: cusp: 1. Flurries 2. Prelude 3. Aftermath 4. Transit 5. Undertow
Personnel: cusp: Vinny Golia (alto flute, clarinet, stritch and soprano saxophone); Steuart Liebig (Eb contrabass guitars); Michael Vatcher (drums, percussion, airhorn and popguns)
September 20, 2004
PETER A. SCHMID/VINNY GOLIA
Leo CD LR 389
CARLOS BECHEGAS/MICHEL EDELIN
High and low timbres, long and short pitches -- these CDs showcase the limits to which woodwinds can be pushed. Endlessly fascinating for the reed fancier, and memorably convincing for everyone if taken in the right spirit and in proper proportions, the sessions enunciate the advanced language of 21st century improvisers.
BIRDOLOGY finds Swiss Peter A. Schmid and American Vinny Golia working out duets featuring almost every member of the woodwind family from sopranino saxophone and piccolo at one end to contrabass clarinet and Eb contrabass saxophone or tubax at the other. Schmid is part of the all-horns Swiss quartet September Winds and has duetted with Britains reed master Evan Parker. Los Angeles Golia plays every member of the reed family -- and some that hasnt yet been invented -- and has performed in every possible setting from solo to massive big band.
OPEN FRONTIERS showcases a similar meeting of minds for the flute family with Portugals Carlos Bechegas and Frances Michel Edelin both playing piccolos, C, alto and bass flutes. Somewhere on the 20 tracks Edelin also exposes his skills on foot-joint bass flute, bansari, bamboo Guadlupean flute, Indian mouthpiece flute, piccosax, birdcall and siren.
The French veteran has played everything from opera to hard-core improv and with musicians ranging from mainstream tenor man Larry Schneider to Free Jazz saxist Byard Lancaster. More than 15 years Edelins junior, Bechegas is also a visual arts teacher and multimedia composer. During the past few years he has recorded with among others British guitarist Derek Bailey and German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach.
As good as these CDs are -- and at points both are exceptional -- each would have benefited from fewer tracks. BIRDOLOGY itself has 16. With only five tunes among the 36 on both discs more than five minutes long, some appear to be little more than technical exercises designed to show off the attributes of certain horns. Those that offer definite contrasts end up being the most impressive.
Take OPEN FRONTIERS Purple Nightmare, for instance. On it, chomping, snapping and deep in the throat glossolalia meet yowls, yips and yodeling shouts that suggest Kung Fu film acting. Warbling peeps from one flute mix with windy nonsense syllables pushed through a lower-pitched reed from the other.
Where is the exit? distinguishes itself as bird-like strangled whistles and piercing cries face comb-and-tissue paper timbres from a bass flute with the vibrations droning against the metal. Meanwhile the title tune finds spittle-encrusted tones from a lower-pitched instrument building up to complement sharp, shrill lines emanating from a transverse flute.
Elsewhere improvisations find one flautist exposing snorting a tuba-like continuum, Bronx cheers arising from resonating lips, tart percussive breaths that are reminiscent of Rahsaan Roland Kirks approach to that horizontal metal, and expansive fog horn suggestions. Contributions from the other player include irregular, scraped melody lines, overblowing to produce a nasal, ney-like sound, modulated mellow tones, undulating hums, twittering polyphonic lines, plus finger hole beats.
Quickest entree to the duos technique is its recasting of Monks Trinkle tinkle. Here tart, rhythmic breaths and key percussion from one introduce a legato reading of the melody on tradition flute from the other. As the theme is advanced first at its usual tempo, then with double time, extra air expelled in the background give it a distinctive overlay.
No jazz classics are featured on BIRDOLOGY, just pieces with mostly ornithological names that give Schmid and Golia scope to express themselves on the 14 reeds they play between them.
Sometimes the metaphors are obvious. Madenhacker I and Madenhacker II for example, are named for the small African bird that feeds on insects it finds on the hide of animals like elephants or rhinos. So on the first run through Schmid lumbers along limning subterranean snorts from the tubax, while Golia, on saxello, leaps about in constant, twittering circles. Second time out, the American switches to sopranino and shrills extra high vibrations, while the Swiss keeps up a continuum of shuddering low tones. Symbiotically the two end the piece practically in unison.
Wiedehopf finds Schmid producing irregular lines from his contrabass clarinet as Golia warbles his piccolo in its highest range, repeating the trills until theyre almost ear splitting. Soon the clarinet introduces glottal stops and tongue slaps as the piccolo chirrups. If you didnt know the title was a translation of he name of the hoopoe bird, youd think it immortalizes a face off between a field mouse and a dinosaur.
Other pieces work off the similar sounds of certain instruments. Taubenbalz or courtship of the dove, features Golia on the alto flute and Schmid on the bass flute, switching lines back and forth between bubbling, legato tones and key pops. Some other blackbirds, with both on Eb clarinets, is a mellow unison line with snaky upwards motion and vibrated tempered tones. As the two flutter tongue, the lines double and triple. Then as resonating trills turn into unison pitches, one maintains the theme with hunting horn cadences, as the other accompanies him with a higher pitched countermelody.
Dodo & other extinct species is an exercise in polyphonic timbres with the Swiss moving between the low-down Eb and contrabass clarinets and the American -- who is supposed to be playing piccolo as well -- mostly keeping to tubax tones. As the two snort and tongue slap upwards, one creates slurred organ-like tones and both shout through their body tubes as if they were lumbering animals wading in the mud.
Finally, Pharaona, which is the Italian name for pheasant, manages to enact a rare non-Western textures, with Schmid sounding the Asiatic taragot with a wavering ostinato and Golia producing chiming, Sephardic lines and slurred bass notes
While a consolidation of tracks into fewer, longer tracks would help both CDs, the Swiss and American musicians outpace the French and Portuguese creators with a wider variety of more carefully designated tones.
Still both CDs are worth investigation.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Open: 1. Tales of Lhassa 2. Where is the exit? 3. Phoenix babies 4. Tidada circle 5. Parallel way 6. Mad pads 7. How to do it? 8. Bubbling up 9. Undulate meeting 10. Dark fireworks 11. Open frontiers 12. Blue of breath 13. Trinkle tinkle 14. Purple nightmare 15. How do you spell it? 16. Wake up melody 17. Would you like some more Irish keffieh, Mr. Lawrence? 18. Tetra 19. Spirits voices 20. Classic average
Personnel: Open: Carlos Bechegas (piccolo, C, alto and bass flutes; Michel Edelin (piccolo, C, alto and bass flutes, foot-joint bass flute, bansari, bamboo Guadlupean flute, Indian mouthpiece flute, piccosax, birdcall and siren)
Track Listing: Birdology: 1. Clarinet choir 2. Blackbirds 3. Madenhacker I 4. Taubenbalz 5. Pharaona 6. Flute choir 7. Möventanz 8. Wiedehopf 9. Frässerbiine 10. Some other blackbirds 11. Ameisen und b-meisen 12. Dodo & other extinct species 13. Mövenschrei 14. Madenhacker II 15. Woodpecker duet 16. Saxophone choir
Personnel: Birdology: Peter A. Schmid (Eb, bass and contrabass clarinets, sopranino, baritone and contrabass [tubax] saxophone, taragot, bass and wooden flutes, bass recorder); Vinny Golia (sopranino and contrabass [tubax] saxophones, saxello, alto and wooden flutes, piccolo, ney, Bb, Eb and bass clarinets)
July 26, 2004
THE VINNY GOLIA QUINTET
One, Three, Two
Recorded at three different concerts in Belgium on September 12, 13 and 15, 2001, ONE, THREE, TWO is a creditable quintet session, which, considering the date, not surprisingly lacks some of the go-for-broke energy multi-reedist Vinny Golia brings to many of his other discs.
Still the cohesion of the band is evident on the 11 Golia compositions written expressly for this instrumentation, that are spread over two CDs with almost 2½ hours of music. However, a combination of ennui regarding the situation in the United States, and concert necessities, which seems to necessitate contributions from each musician on nearly every tune, means that some pieces and solos are overly extended. Considering that Golia had been playing with brothers, guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Alex Cline since 1976, expressive trombonist Michael Vlatkovich since 1981 and bassist Scott Walton for at least five years at that point, no sound is less than thoroughgoing professional, though. And many of the pieces are outright exciting.
Significantly enough, Disc 2, which was all recorded at the final concert, is livelier and more cohesive than what appears from two earlier shows on Disc 1. Additionally that discs final four numbers showcase the energy and skill of the band at its zenith.
Particularly impressive are the back-to-back Make it Snappy and Yari. Beginning with a peeping clarinet run, the former soon finds Golia pitch shifting and producing double-tongued, hocketing glissandos. Followed by plunger bone blasts and march time drum rolls, the reedman then introduces stop time irregular trills that move up the scale and are extended with circular breathing. Linking this to Yari, Golia, on flute and the trombonists tones intertwine in front of walking bass lines
Given his head, Vlatkovich embarks on an extended slurred solo, initially facing counterlines from the flute and flailing fills from guitarist Cline. But as he begins burrowing into the bottom of the horn, Golia piccolo twitters take the top part, drummer Cline jazzily bounces his snares and makes his cymbals sizzle, Walton double stops and the guitarist outlines a Joe Pass-meets-Herb Ellis solo, all slurred fingering and speedy fills.
These distorted runs radiate all over Bridge Made of Waters, with fretman Clines distortions and tremolos adding to the textures smeared, blown out and ratcheted by the others instruments. Earlier, one of the musicians provided some atmospheric grunts and on The Happy, Walton slaps his bass. The trombonist adds to the retro feel on this blues by alternating Frank Rosolino-like pecks and Vic Dickenson-like slurs, while Golia turns from producing a pinched, staccato sopranino trill to stomping, stop time Southwestern tenor tones. Coupled with ringing guitar work, this track could prove to any naysayer that exploratory musicians are just as capable of swinging as neo-con jazzbos. Would that this animation had extended to all the tunes on both discs.
Elsewhere, its often Vlatkovichs melding of post-bop speed with tailgate-style emotion that provides the spark on many other tunes. Moving among his various horns, Golia too can join in for some call-and-response fire, but when earlier pieces clock in at least 17 minute plus, some of the momentum is lost after every player contributes a solo.
On Behalf of My Benefactors, the longest track at 20 plus minutes, certainly ends up this way. Contrapuntal textures moving back and forth between polyphonic bone slurs and whistling reed lines meets woody bass tones and finger tip picking from Nels Cline. Golia then introduces a chirping, circular soprano timbre that accelerates to panpipe tones and sideslips into other keys. Following pummeling rolls, paradiddles and flams from the drummer and an echoing guitar chord, a quarter note bass line stabilizes the piece into a swing tune with the trombonist tonguing out speedy breaks and Golia chirping and smearing his notes. Still Vlatkovichs triplet display pales a bit whenever other players have to get their licks in before the tune ends.
As with much of his other sideman work, especially with Golia, Nels Cline keeps his guitar hero showmanship to a minimum here, sticking mostly to complementary finger style forays rather than distorted, single string reverb. Brother Alex is similarly restrained, providing shuffle rhythms and a heavy backbeat when needed, otherwise expressing himself through inventive percussion forays, as early on when his traps output take on a resemblance to a gamelan. When not walking, Walton rasps out resonant accompaniment. And the three generally free up enough space for Golia and Vlatkovich to soar.
Among his many horns, the reedist can be relaxed or intense on soprano, emphasize higher-pitched ney-like tones from the same instrument and on tenor create snorting obbligatos, which are still more Teddy Edwards than Trane. On clarinets he jumps from slurred and squeaky coloratura tones to Morse code-like compressed single notes and choked squeals.
Meanwhile the trombonist smoothly bends notes at certain places, sneaks up the scale with a thinner tone, double tongues at others, and can create his own call and response with two distinct sounds. Shoving a mute deep within his bell and pulling it out just as quickly, he moves from a buzz to purr. Elsewhere it appears as if hes vibrating the bell directly against a thin metal sheet for some lowering rubato tempos.
Although some of material on the first disc is weaker, Disc 2 is still essential for all Golia followers or fans or first-class improvisational music. And, come to think of it, less than perfect Golia Quintet sounds are still better than much of the music being marketed as jazz these days.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Disc One: 1. Hexo-Lateral (for Buckminster Fuller) 2. None That Are Giants 3. While All Are Away 4. On Behalf of My Benefactors 5. Prelude to the Orphans Disc Two: 1. Drum in the Circle of Stone 2. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting
3. Make it Snappy 4. Yari 5. Bridge Made of Waters 6. The Happy
Personnel: Michael Pierre Vlatkovich (trombone); Vinny Golia (sopranino, soprano and tenor saxophones, A clarinet, ocarina, piccolo, C and alto flutes); Nels Cline (guitar); Scott Walton (bass); Alex Cline (drums)
July 12, 2004
9 Winds NWCD0229
Vinny Golia seems to have as many musical personas as the instruments that he plays. Considering that the Los Angles-based composer/bandleader/musician is proficient on about 23 members of the woodwind family, you never know which of Golias talents will be exposed on a given disc. Hes created large ensemble works, improvised in small jazzy combos, played solo, in duets and trios and traded licks with a PowerBook manipulator.
FEEDING FRENZY, which arrives with the rather prosaic and precise subtitle --music for woodwinds & string quartet --, is another coup. Using six members of the clarinet family and four flutes, Golia pits his horns against an unconventional grouping of two violins, cello and bass. The result is almost 78 minutes of interrupted improv textures that use the atonal capabilities of strings and woodwinds without sacrificing a portion of the romantic vulnerability associated with these instruments.
Not usually constituted as a string quartet, Golias helpmates are at home with astringent music making and shifting tonal centres as more legit harmony. Bassist Ken Filiano, for instance, has seconded the reedist on a series of large and small group projects and now works with East Coast improvisers such as drummer Lou Grassi and trombonist Steve Swell. Violinist Harry Scorzos diamond hard tone and fleet pizzicato was an important part of the success of THE OTHER BRIDGE (OAKLAND 1999) by Golias large ensemble. A member of Latin and salsa bands plus a duo with Tony Jones on electronics, this CD gives Scorzo more scope for his legit side. Swedish violinist Ludwig Girdland, a recent Berklee College grad, acquits himself well on second violin, and the cello chair is held by Jonas Tauber of Portland, Ore., who has also worked with improv/New music percussionist John Hollenbeck.
Overall, each of the 10 tracks features polyrhythmic explorations of Golias themes, with their jokey titles sometimes hinting at the contents. Blended strings are often used as counterpoint to the reedmans extended techniques on one or (usually) more horns. Eschewing saxophones gives many of the pieces a sound midway between New music and what many people hear as EuroImprov, with many of the tracks broken into multi-thematic sections.
On flute, Golias performance can range from the most obvious legato phrasing to concentrated, claxon-like overblowing or guttural Rahsaan Roland Kirk-style vocalized breaths. Exposing his clarinet army, its the chalumeau register thats most prominent here, even when hes playing the contra alto bass clarinet or contra bass clarinet. To match that, Filianos particular methods are most evident when he constructs an andante bass continuo, or produces an augmented ferment, banging his bow on the front of the strings or creating vibrato with several sticks placed horizontally between the strings.
Scorzo is probably responsible for a few string-popping violin solos as well as double-timing staccato phrases. More frequently, he and Girdland unite for high-pitched, rubato lines, cushioning or commenting on the horn work. Or they will meld tones as one, polyrhythmically contrasting with their lower string cousins.
No syrupy BIRD WITH STRINGS, Vinny Golia & Strings -- as the CD label reads -- is a reminder that abrasive reed techniques and congenial string work can mix without fissure. Its another reminder of the wealth of talent affiliated with Golia and his many projects.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Title Sequence 2. Shes Joan Raymond 3. Things The Dobsons Could Have Taught Us 4. Biograph 5. Did I Forget to Mention That? 6. Death of the Tremolo 7. Bare-handed Cricket Catch 8. Oil For the Burning Fires 9. Subtrafuge 10. When Elephants Then Come Waltzing Through Your Living Room
Personnel: Vinny Golia (piccolo, G flute, C flute, alto flute and bass flute, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, A clarinet, bass clarinet, contra alto bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet); Ludwig Girdland, Harry Scorzo (violins); Jonas Tauber (cello); Ken Filiano (bass)
March 10, 2003
VINNY GOLIA LARGE ENSEMBLE
The Other Bridge (Oakland 1999)
Nine Winds NWCD 0210/0220
Sun, surf, sand, stars
Los Angles has many things going for it. But being recognized as a major jazz composer/performer while living there isn't one of them.
That's the situation that has faced multi-reedist Vinny Golia, who has been based in California for the past 30 years. Focused towards New York, the so-called jazz industry has little time for anything else. Which means that innovations taking place in such diverse locations as Toronto, Chicago, Bologna or Liverpool also become marginalized. It can even more difficult for those near LAX, which after all is the epicentre of the commercial music biz. Heck, the mailing address of Golia's innovative Nine Winds label is even in Beverly Hills. Luckily its zip code isn't 90210.
So, despite the fact that he has turned out scores of impressive albums featuring his compositions in situations ranging from solo recitals to the 26-piece big band showcased here, Golia still isn't as acclaimed as he should be. And we're all the poorer for it.
For this two CD set -- which melds all the hues available from a clutch of multi-instrumentalists plus a classical tinge -- is easily the equal of better-known large band efforts by such "eastern" composers as Anthony Braxton or Simon H. Fell. Additionally, comparing his work to that of certain Pulitzer Prize winning jazz bandleaders just puts the latter's attempts even further into the shade. Not that there's a contest going on. Golia's 12 creations can easily fall, or as is the case here rise, on their own merits.
Recorded live as part of the 10th annual Eddie Moore Festival at Yoshi's in Oakland, Calif. -- another less-than-fashionable area -- the sound is a little murky, as can be expected from an on location performance.
For this performance Golia collected a big jazz band of some of his regular associates -- flugelhornist Rob Blakeslee, trombonist Mike Vlatkovich, saxophonists Kim Richmond and ROVAman Steve Adams, keyboardist Wayne Peet, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Alex Cline -- and filled the sections with selected woodwind and string players. Those section types aren't there as Kentonian window dressing either. Not only do the strings and horns create an impression by building overtures, interludes and transitions in many tunes, most prominently between the two parts of "The Village of Forgotten Men", but several also prove themselves as impressive soloists.
Especially notable is violinist Harry Scorzo, who gets to shine on "Bot" and "Master of the Playing Cards". With a diamond hard tone capable of cutting through the masses of other instruments, he directs most of his upper register improvisations skyward and on "Bot" even knocks out some fleet pizzicato passages, hindered only a bit by the rough live recording sound.
Cline and Filiano's note-perfect backing work doesn't have to be commented on anymore, but kudos should go to Dave Johnson for his ringing marimba work on "The Evasion of Chaos" and Peet for revealing hitherto unknown talents on organ ("Push The Machine") and theremin (the "Something Heard" transition).
Swinging call and response interludes from the different sections get things going when the pulse should be goosed. Plus a few of the jazzers strut their stuff as well. Richmond's go-for-broke alto lines demand attention on "Thread for Fred" and elsewhere, as do trombonist Vlatkovich's gutbucket flights over consolidated strings and percussion on the same tune.
In short, this is the sort of session that calls for hearing and rehearing from everyone not blinded by regionalism. Now, if only Golia could bring a band of this size into a pristine, state-of-the-art recording studios. Who knows what sonic wonders might result?
-- Ken Waxman
1. No one had ever waved to a lifeless object before 2. Thread for Fred 3. Something Heard 4. The Evasion of Chaos part Two 5. Bot 6. The Evasion of Chaos Part One
1. Japur 2. Push the Machine 3. The Village of Forgotten Men Part One 4. The Village of Forgotten Men Part Two 5. RIP 6. Master of the Playing Cards
Personnel: Jeff Kaiser, John Fumo, Rob Blakeslee (trumpets, flugelhorns); Mike Vlatkovich, Danny Hemwall, Scott Ray (trombones); Bill Roper (tuba); Kim Richmond (soprano and alto saxophones, clarinet, flute; Vinny Golia (piccolo, flutes, sopranino, soprano, baritone and bass saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet); Bill Plake (piccolo, flute, tenor saxophone); Steve Adams (flute, bass flute, sopranino, soprano and alto saxophones); Sarah Shoenbeck (bassoon); Paul Sherman (English horn); Eric Barber, Alan Lechusza, Tara Speiser (woodwinds); Wayne Peet (keyboards, theremin, organ piano); Harry Scorzo, Jeff Gauthier (violins); Colin Pearson, Guenevere Measham, Jonathan Golove (cellos); Ken Filiano (bass); Dave Johnson (percussion, marimba); Brad Dutz, Alex Cline (drums, percussion); Stephanie Henry, Vinny Golia (conductors)
August 6, 2001
Nine Winds NWCD 0214
MARK TRAYLE/VINNY GOLIA
Music for Electronics & Woodwinds
Nine Winds NWCD 0243
Meniscus MNSCS 008
Capo of modern improv in the greater Los Angeles area, multi-reedman Vinny Golia has been pursuing his singular path for the past 30 years. Master of at least 28 woodwind instruments and bossman of Nine Winds Records since 1977, Golia has composed for theatre, film and dance projects, worked with stylists as different as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton and Horace Tapscott and recorded in every imaginable format from solo to 32 piece band.
Along the way he's provided a West Coast forum for other freethinking European and North American improvisers and helped many like-minded young performers gain experience in playing freer sounds.
Golia's range is so vast, in fact, that a different stylist could be featured on each of these three discs. What unites them all however is a searching intelligence that leads to absorbing sessions.
Most "traditional" in the Free Jazz sense is LINEAGE, a piano-less quartet which features former Ornette Coleman associate Bobby Bradford on trumpet, plus Ken Filiano on bass and Alex Cline on drums. Very much in the Coleman mode, as the title suggests, the CD is no neo-con recreation however, since Golia, who wrote all of the tunes, has a less rawboned approach than Ornette's. Moreover, the four horns he uses here provide different tinctures than were available from Coleman's sole alto saxophone.
An adopted Angelo who expanded his palette working with folk rooted clarinetist John Carter and British improv drummer John Stevens, Bradford's alternately powerful and gentle tone shows that he's a lot more than "the guy who replaced Don Cherry with Ornette".
He's still a relaxed, unassuming type of soloist, however. On "Tenorphonicity", for instance, the longest track, it's Golia -- on tenor saxophone -- who gets involved in pyrotechnics. Content with using his muted trumpet to create a sprightly counter melody, backed by occasional scrapes from Filiano's bowed bass, Bradford only participates in the call and response when the tenorist has finished exposing his prowess. Meanwhile "Hsaibde", with its trumpet and baritone sax front line, brings back memories of Gerry Mulligan's original piano-less quartets, if they had played more challenging material.
Whether intentional on not, because of its title, "Legends, Logic, Folklore, Facts" can be heard as a tribute to Carter, whose pioneering ethno-cultural work with Bradford put a modern musical face on Diaspora African and early African-American history. Consciously using the bass clarinet or the lower register of the B flat instrument, Golia sounds nothing like Carter, though. The split tones he introduces into his solo prove that taking reed work the next step forward honors Carter more than any attempt to parrot his more measured talents.
Fittingly, the most appropriate portrait of the trumpeter's style appears on "So Close to Where You Live", which showcases his relaxed, Byronic side. Here Bradford dominates the exposition with slow-paced muted trumpet lines that inch into a livelier mid tempo, existing as counterpoint to Golia's bass clarinet. Finally blending together in a musical caress, the tune provides evidence of why Bradford has been in demand as a partner for so many woodwind masters.
Known for the abrasive fusion music he often plays with his guitarist brother Nels, Cline is the very model of sympathetic secondary lead in this playlet. It's the same with Filiano. Both only step forward when needed and seem to consciously toil to frame the front line improvisations.
Jumping ahead three years to early 2001, the duo session with electroacoustic composer Mark Trayle is another proposition all together: the image pictured in the booklet is of Golia, surrounded by a music store's stock of reed instruments, facing off against Trayle's slim line notebook computer.
Experienced in the ways of improvisers due to his past work with the likes of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and the ROVA saxophone quartet, what Trayle brings to the table -- or more fittingly the workstation -- is the ability to create mechanized sonics which Golia can play with, against or use as background. Only one track, "Imparticle", is a studio creation, two others use the reedist's playing as the sound source, while the remainder was recorded live in real time.
Best showcase of this is "If you feed the bears they come back for more". Moving mostly between what sounds like tenor and baritone saxophones, Golia concentrates on multiphonics and overblowing and even sudden, upper register screeches. In response Trayle counters with some high-pitched reflecting notes, the suggestion of castanets and tambourines and what appears to be surgery performed on the inside of a mechanical toy. The electronics get so overwrought at one point, in fact, that they almost drown out a dulcet flute passage.
Other times, as on "Cheapman and the sweater he cherished", Trayle settles for what could be the equivalent of a jazzman's piano comping. Then as Golia turns out clarinet notes in the foreground, while Trayle whooshes and rumbles behind him. Elsewhere the computer suggests the sounds of kittens purring, babies crying, insects rubbing their legs together and the ever-popular blobs of electronic static. Electronics may allow Golia to appear to be dueling with himself, but a reed master like Rahsaan Roland Kirk could do that acoustically.
In truth, the two numbers that use Golia's playing as sound sources don't sound that much different than the others. On "Lazy Third Eye", it's definitely the PowerBook making the animal scratching or drum head worrying tones, but are some of the bass clarinet passages created by Golia or his electronic doppelganger? And does it really matter?
All in all, while a fascinating experiment, the CD isn't wholly successful, since Trayle's electronics seem to function more as accompaniment or decoration rather than musical partner. Perhaps a future session would remove the bugs -- or is it computer viruses?
For those who want their Golia straight up if not straight ahead CLARINET should satisfy their reed cravings. Recorded in 2000 and only his second solo session ever, Golia appears to have created a sort of circular suite for clarinet reed. Expressing himself as much in the aviary reaches of the instrument as the chalumeau register, he has selected certain theoretical concepts to expose on each track and does so.
On "Collapse of the Crane", for example, in between the split tones he spits out two accompanying lines, creating with fingers and breath control what resulted from electroacoustics on the former disc. Different tracks seem to be concerned with speed, still others with melodies and others circular breathing. Additionally, he tries to see how many tones he can stick into a bar on "Rictus of Revenge" and warbles at both ends of the staff on "Back to the Interstate". Then on the slow-paced "Ape and the Spotted Salamander", Golia manages to hold single notes longer than imaginable to produce echoing overtones.
Like similar solo experiments from his associate Braxton, though, the dexterity and design that go into these nine performances should attract many people interested in new sounds, but fascinate
and frighten most clarinetists
Before he turned full time to music, Golia was a respected visual artist and these three aural paintings are merely the newest works in his ongoing art exposition.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Hello to Mrs. Minifield 2. Winterset 3. Tenorphonicity 4. Legends, Logic, Folklore, Facts 5. Hsaibde 6. So Close to Where You Live 7. Pierriot for Al 8. Caught by Surprise
Personnel: Bobby Bradford (trumpet); Vinny Golia (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor and baritone saxophones); Ken Filiano (bass); Alex Cline (drums)
Track Listing: 1. Shellfish 2. This clown is crashing 3. Cheapman and the sweater he cherished 4. If you feed the bears they come back for more 5. Imparticle 6. Signature Metric 7. Lazy Third Eye 8. Gilbert was vague 9. Behind the Fifty-five dollar face
Personnel: Vinny Golia (clarinet, bass clarinet, contras bass clarinet, flute, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones); Mark Trayle (electronics - PowerBook running the Supercollider program)
Track Listing: 1. Joined to the Songs of Ancestry 2. Back to the Interstate 3. Ape and the Spotted Salamander 4. Darkwood Plinth 5. Collapse of the Crane 6. Rictus of Revenge 7. Momona of the Stairs 8. That's Just Billy Talk
9. The Last One Was What The First One Should Be
Personnel: Vinny Golia (clarinet)
July 9, 2001