A Fireside Chat with Vinny Golia

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AAJ: Artist/indie labels seems to be the creative well for the music. Both Dave Holland and Dave Douglas have introduced their own labels.

VG: The advantage that they have over us is that they were with labels that had jazz departments. Those guys bought a lot of advertising. Regardless of what anyone thinks of their music, when it comes to advertising, it's almost inconsequential because they create a public awareness of those players. So if those players do just a pittance of advertising, they will come out pretty good because the work has already been done for them.

I remember when Tim Berne was with Columbia, they took out a lot of advertising and did a fair amount of promotion for him and deservedly so because the records that he did on Columbia were really great records. That as carried through the years. Tim has delivered and built on that platform of advertising. Now, he has his own label again. He was one of the early guys. He had a label in '78. He has returned to it, but now he has that platform of advertising that's been done. Guys like Dave Douglas and Holland, if they're going to start their own labels—all they really have to do is put out music is comparable to the music they put out before. With the caliber of musicianship of Douglas and Holland, that's not going to be a problem. They should give me advice.

AAJ: As an educator, how do you encourage students of a music that is hardly mainstream and often discounted?

VG: One of the great things about CalArts is that everybody there who teaches is also on the road an amount. So the students come there to partake of the faculty, but they also have the awareness that the teachers are going to be out of town. When they see that, you don't have to say a word because you are putting your money where your mouth is. It is actually harder to see us locally than it is to see us in any of these other places.

You have a better chance in the spring and fall to see us play on the East Coast or the Mid-West or even in the Southwest than you do in L.A. The students see us and ask questions about that and ask questions about the people you played with and what the scene is like here or there. You can answer these questions because you play with these people and are part of the scene. The action is a greater thing that just sitting there and talking about it. I think that is the biggest thing about CalArts. We talk more about what they want to do, why they want to do it, and where they want to do it. Once we start talking about those things, then everything else falls into place for them.

AAJ: As a student of the music, you have pursued instrumental challenges. What's next?

VG: I'm patiently waiting for a new bass saxophone to do the Bb version of the "Like Instruments", which will be done after the clarinets. The guy who made my tubax has redesigned the bass saxophone. He hasn't changed the outside design of it, but the inside dimensions, everything is larger. So the sound is really beautiful and huge. I will be getting one of the first ones that he's making.

AAJ: And the future?

VG: I am finishing up some commissions for some people I met in Europe. Then I am doing an East Coast tour with Adam Lane in February. I am going to Belgium with Peter Schmid from the Leo record. I will be back to Europe in May to do Macbeth, which just closed here at REDCAT. We're doing London and Dublin and a few other places.

AAJ: It is a one man Macbeth.

VG: It is a one man Macbeth with three musicians. I wrote some music and then I picked Jeremy and Harris to perform with. They played great. The music was pretty simple and there was a lot of improvising involved because Stephen would play the characters differently each night. It was really fantastic and a lot of fun. Stephen was just unbelievable. I was in awe of his performances.

Visit Vinny Golia on the web.


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