Begun in 1977 by reedman and composer Vinny Golia as a forum to release projects of Los Angeles and West Coast-based improvisers, Nine Winds has been crucial in bringing to light the talents of a varied pool of musicians. Artists such as guitarist Nels Cline, whose pedigree includes work with Mike Watt (Minutemen) as well as Golia; the sorely underrated percussion wizardry of Alex Cline; the late pianist Richard Grossman; and erstwhile Horace Tapscott bassist Roberto Miguel Miranda are stalwarts in the Nine Winds circle. The label acts as a focal point for West Coast new music, bringing together classical and jazz musicians (to see architects of extended bass technique like Bertram Turetsky alongside logical successors like Ken Filiano is indeed notable) both on the roster and in spirit.
Nels Cline/Vinny Golia
The Entire Time
Nine Winds Records
Multi-reedman Vinny Golia is a catalyst of new music on the West Coast, and since the passing of John Carter and Horace Tapscott, one of the most crucial voices of the Los Angeles jazz vanguard. His trio with bassist Roberto Miranda and drummer Alex Cline had one of the most varied palettes of any sax-bass-drums "power trio," countering full-throttle baritone with minimal, arid shakuhachi, and spectacularly aided by one of the most pliable rhythm sections of the past twenty-five years. Guitarist Nels Cline, brother to Alex, has taken a slightly different career path, involving himself with fringe rock outfits as well as improvised music.
Though Golia and Nels had logged many hours of music over the past two decades, The Entire Time is their first recording together. For a series of duets between guitar and reeds, the music itself is extremely varied, even within a piece. From ethereal Chinese flute to raucous bass clarinet coupled with feedback drones, the opener "Divining" is a heady brew. Cline is a technically accomplished guitarist, not limited to surges of soundhis six-string acoustic meshes perfectly with Golia's flute on "City Snow Stories," an elastic dialogue reminiscent of the Boulou FerreGunter Hampel duets on Espace (Birth, 1970). The pieces that employ fewer effects and more direct guitar work are the real gems here, particularly the dialogues for flutes and guitar ("The Tiny Boxes Speak Her Name," "Fond Rememberances of Luther Talbot").
Making Room for Spaces
Nine Winds Records
Across the board, one could say that the piano-less quartet is one of the hallmark configurations in the history of avant-garde jazz, and with Making Room for Spaces , the MTKJ Quartet seems like yet another comfortable body in the fold. Comprised of altoist and clarinetist Jason Mears, trumpeter Kris Tiner, bassist Ivan Johnson and drummer Paul Kikuchi, MTKJ are putting themselves in heavy company (Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, etc.). Of course, in Los Angeles, the history of the pianoless quartet lies too with onetime Ornette sideman, trumpeter Bobby Bradford, and the quartet he co-led with altoist and clarinetist John Carter. There is a decided textural difference between the two models, and MTKJ is one of the few groups coming to mind that distinctly follows the latter influence. To replace Ornette's mournful bluesy alto with a woody, pensive-yet-vicious clarinet and set it to arco bass and mallets takes this music out of the realm, at least immediately, of country blues. Mears certainly channels Carter on "And So it Goes," what becomes a fantasia for clarinet and circular breathing. "Like That, She's Gone" ostensibly starts the set in an Ornette-ish mode, only adding a stately vamp over which Tiner's bravura and Mears' saxophone multiphonics soar. Part of this is surefootedness - as the logic of formula has proven itself, so the edge of materials becomes sharper. This is not music to turn one's head around, but rather that which fits into an honored improvisational format, and at this MTKJ are of interest, and if not completely unique, at least taking a rarer path.
With these two recent projects, it is safe to say that independent creative music remains strong and vital in the Los Angeles area, both in the growth of new voices and the sustenance of old. Golia and Cline have, thankfully, realized for public ears their long and fruitful relationship in a fresh context, while a time-worn context has proven itself with new blood via the work of MTKJ. Los Angeles has much to be thankful for in Vinny Golia, his organization and his compatriots.
The Entire Time
Personnel: Vinny Golia (afl, ss, ts, bcl, stritch, dzi, xiao) Nels Cline (ac-g, el-g, effects, loops) Track Listing: Divining - City Snow Stories - For Oliver Lake - The Tiny Boxes Speak Her Name - Smooth Surface, The Canals (One) - Opus de Kirkus - Fond Rememberances of Luther Talbot - Smooth Surface, The Canals (Two) - Destination Deeth
Making Room For Spaces
Personnel: Kris Tiner (tp, flh) Jason Mears (as, cl) Ivan Johnson (b) Paul Kikuchi (d) Track Listing: Like That, She's Gone - And So it Goes... - Function - Fish Face - Nuts and Gum, Together At Last! - Mearsysmearsy
Visit Nine Winds Records on the web at www.ninewinds.com .