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Vinny Golia: A Gift for the Unusual: Music for Contrabass Saxophone

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West coast sax maven Vinny Golia brings out a set where he plays the tubax, a new type of contrabass saxophone designed by German inventor Benedict Eppelsheim. A standard contrabass saxophone is a rather unwieldly beast, often difficult to tame. Apparently, the tubax solves many of these shortcomings by being both a full-sounding and controllable instrument.

Right from the start, the opener finds the tubax often sounding like a contrabass clarinet, yet with a metallic and more powerful sound. Lasting slightly over one minute, this piece serves more as an introduction and to set the tone for the rest of the music. "Repetition" is a trio of tubax, trombone, and contrabass. This piece finds the three instruments weaving dark, melodic lines around each other. At times, the tubax and arco contrabass are difficult to distinguish from each other, their tonalities melding together.

"Eye My" is a swinging duo with Wayne Peet. The tubax really benefits from the piano's contrast in timbre and attack. Golia tends to play a more legato, linear style here, and the sharp, staccato of the piano is the perfect foil. Originally written for bass sax, "The Mozart of Vice" is a tubax/contrabass/trombone/piano outing. Bassist Bill Casale sets up an opening line over which Golia and trombonist Michael Pierre Vlatkovich weave the melody. With no fault towards the musicianship, the music just seems to plod along.

Golia has never been one to shy away from exploring different aspects of creative music, and this is no exception. His bravery in making a recording solely on tubax may be overshadowed by the limited tonality of the instrument over sixty four minutes. And his choice of instrumentation often keeps the sounds in the low registers, making repeated listenings a challenge. This CD may be more of an acquired taste than anything—the music, grounded in the bass register, rarely takes off.


Track Listing: Single Booth Enclosure: Prime; Repetition; Mr. Amons Builds His Bridge; Eye My; Single Booth Enclosure Third: Revisitation; The Mozart Of Vice; The 15th; Just Something I Thought Of; Once Upon A Time On My Way To The Studio; A History Of Everything That Ever Happened; The Last Of Its Kind.

Personnel: Vinny Golia: tubax, gordophone (10); Michael Pierre Vlatkovich: trombone; Bill Casale: contrabass; Wayne Peet: piano, organ, electric piano, Theremin, synthesizer; Jessica Catron: cello; Bill Barrett: chromatic harmonica.

Title: A Gift for the Unusual: Music for Contrabass Saxophone | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Nine Winds Records

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