Vinny Golia Large Ensemble: 20th Anniversary Concert
That nearly everyone gets either separate or collective solo space is testament to Golia's encouraging democracyanother reason why he's been such a focal point on the Left Coast scene for nearly 35 years. Still, Golia gets his own opportunity to shine, with his sopranino solo at the tail end of the performance raising the question why he hasn't reached the same level of exposure and acclaim as British saxophonist Evan Parker. He's clearly as technically facile as Parker, with an equally broad application of extended techniques. But the unfortunate truth is that, for some reason, the Left Coast scene has always avoided the greater recognition it deserves, and that's a shame, because it represents as distinctive a voice as the edgier scenes in cities like Chicago, New York and London.
As the set draws to a close, Bill Roper delivers an impromptu speech that praises Golia, and it's clear from the response of the band members around him that Golia has carved a unique space in the Los Angeles sceneit's no hyperbole to suggest, in fact, that he's almost single-handedly responsible for the Left Coast scene as it is today.
From a technical perspective, 20th Anniversary Concert must have been a challenge. It's a spartan two-camera set-upone out in the audience, attempting to capture the scope of the entire ensemble, and at times just barely succeeding, and another for close-ups. Still, it would appear that, unlike some video productions, there wasn't a camera person on stage'"not that there was any room for one. The sound is clear and crisp, but maintains the ambience of a live recording, making the whole experience of watching the DVD akin to being in the audience.
As extra features there is some rehearsal footage and a slide show of performance shots. But most interesting is the 50-minute interview footage, where many of the band members, along with Golia himself, talk about many things, including how this envelope- pushing music has evolved over the years.
Golia's music is rarely for the faint-at-heart, and a 35-piece ensemble like this clearly challenges those who like their music safe and predictable. But it's exciting stuff, and since financial practicalities would prohibit an ensemble of this size from embarking on any kind of tour, we can thank Golia for releasing this DVDgiving those of us not living in the Los Angeles area a chance to experience the excitement of a Large Ensemble concert in the comfort of our own home.
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Personnel: Eric Barber: woodwinds; Rob Blakeslee: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jessica Catron: cello; Daphne Chen: violin; Alex Cline: drums, percussion; Brad Dutz: percussion; Bruce Fowler: trombone; John Fumo: trumpet; Jeff Gauthier: violin; Ludvig Girdland: violin; Vinny Golia: woodwinds, composer; Ed Harkins: trumpets; Ivan Johnson: contrabass; Jeff Kaiser: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ronit Kirchman: violin; Alan Lechusza: woodwinds; Marc Lowenstein: conductor; Devin Maxwell: percussion, mallets; Joe McNally: contrabass; Guenevere Meascham: cello; Jason Mears: woodwinds; George McMullen: trombone; Hal Onserud: contrabass; Wayne Peet: piano, organ; Andrew Pask: woodwinds; Bill Plake: woodwinds; Scot Ray: trombone; Kim Richmond: woodwinds; Bill Roper: tuba, spoken word; Jennifer Roth: flutes; Eric Sbar: euphonium; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Jonathan Stenney: bassoon, contrabassoon; Phil Teele: bass trombone; Michael Vlatkovich: trombone; Rob Zimmerman: cello.
Track Listing: Section B version 2; Raincheck for the Revolution; The Long Short Nite; One for Bennie; Goody Two Shoes & The Filthy Beast; History in Jakarta 2053, See You There...
Approximate Running Time: 100 minutes
Extras: Interviews with members of The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble (50 minutes); Rehearsal footage (10 minutes); slide show.