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A Fireside Chat With Vinny Golia

By Published: April 3, 2003

VG: Damon Short is a really fine drummer, but I wasn't aware of how good of a composer he was. He did a tour, again, Rob Blakeslee introduced him to me, more in terms of the playing. He had done a tour with Rob and I up and down the West Coast. Smoker and I and Ken, when Phil Haynes couldn't do our quartet, Damon came in and played some of the concerts and he did a great job, a really great job. We played a couple of festivals in Michigan. He had this tape that he played in the car and when I asked what that was, he said that it was something he had been shopping for a while and he couldn't get any interest in it. It sounded pretty hip to me and so he sent me a copy and it was that simple. He really was having a hard time. No one was interested in him because he, I would hate to say this, but we are both middle aged white guys and there is not as much interest in our music. We're not at the crux point. We're not young and coming up anymore. We're not old enough to be old, established mentors. He is kind of stuck in the middle and I thought his music was quite essential myself. He has got some beautiful stuff.

FJ: 9Winds has also just released a new Ken Filiano record.

VG: Ken talked about doing this solo record for years. He just talked about it and talked about it. Finally, I said that I was going to record the string quartet and he wanted to play on that and I told him that he could play on it if, the next day, I would book the studio and he goes in and do this studio solo project. So he said that he would do it and he did it and it is gorgeous. It is really good. It is a really good record. I am very happy with it and I am sure he is too.

FJ: And the future for 9Winds?

VG: I have a couple of things, the first volume of Music for Like Instruments, which is a series of compositions and things for players who all play instruments that are either the same or in the same key. It is an idea that I have been toying with for a few years. The first version is for three alto saxophones and myself on E flat saxophone. I play contrabass saxophone, sopranino saxophone, and baritone saxophone. It is like a saxophone quartet, only everything is pitched in E flat. That's a really fun thing. I am also working on, believe it or not, there is a new version of the contrabass saxophone, which I have, called a tubax. I am putting that music together. All the music is recorded. It just needs to be mixed. It is for various settings for the tubax. I really like playing this instrument quite a bit. The German guy, Eppelsheim, who invented it is a genius. It's an amazing instrument. The contrabass saxophone in its current, traditional form, first off, there is only about twenty-four of those in the world. It is a hard instrument to get around on and play. I've played Anthony Braxton's and played one that LA Sax has. They are mostly made by ORSI. They don't blend in that well. They have their uses, but it is not as useful an instrument as the tubax. He has redesigned the entire tubing to make it more like a contrabassoon. It is an amazing instrument that plays with the fluency of a baritone saxophone. You are playing way down in this octave below baritone range and you are just cruising around. It is a very rich tone. The tone is not as resounding as the giant saxophone, but this tone is more useful for sections and doing certain things. I have that coming out and also, Walter Thompson, the saxophonist, is doing another CD with us. I haven't really decided to go box set or DVD, but for the Large Ensemble, something about the history of the Large Ensemble. I am trying to toy with the idea of doing a little overview CD of 9Winds music that was on different sessions, but didn't make it on to disc. There is a couple sessions that I have with me playing with John (Carter) and Bobby (Bradford) and there is one or two other sessions just hanging around. That is what I am working on.

FJ: Imagine the stars aligned and there was gold at the end of the rainbow, where do you envision 9Winds in five years?

VG: I would like to play somewhere and have people stop saying, "You're from LA? I didn't know there was that kind of music there?" That would be nice if stars aligned. I would like to get a better at what I do, actually a lot better at what I do. And also, I would like 9Winds to be a little bit more of an entity that can support itself a little bit more and not particularly need me to keep throwing capital into it. I would like it to be a very good overview of different kinds of music.

FJ: With the pitter patter of little feet (Golia and his wife have a two-year-old daughter), honestly Vinny, I don't know where you find the time.

VG: (Laughing) She is two years old and she is hell on wheels. She is really fun and wants to play all the woodwind instruments and also sings rather well. She has a lot of sympathy for percussionists (laughing).

FJ: She is her father's daughter.

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