188

Vinny Golia: One, Three, Two / A Gift for the Unusual / Music For Like Instruments; The Flutes

Brandt Reiter By

Sign in to view read count
Several years ago, the esteemed jazz critic Gary Giddins named Sonny Rollins' This Is What I Do his #1 album of the year. Among its many other merits, Giddins celebrated what he referred to as the record's "LP-ballpark length. "You can actually take it in in one sitting, Giddins wrote, adding, "How many 75-minute epics, excellent in sections, become wallpaper by the eighth nine-minute track?

How many, indeed. My answer: most. Cases in point: three albums by the very gifted pan-reedist Vinny Golia. Based in California, Golia has been a major force on the West Coast avant-garde scene for more than thirty years. He's a fantastically talented player, uncompromising in his music and a true visionary; with Nine Winds, the label he founded in 1977, he's given voice to many players outside the New York-centric jazz world and helped archive their work.

In short, Golia's important and absolutely worth paying attention to; if you don't know him—and far too many New Yorkers do not—you should. However, as Giddins infers, there can be too much of a good thing and these three albums are it. The first, a double set, runs a whopping 144 minutes, the next two over an hour apiece.

Vinny Golia
One, Three, Two
Jazz Halo
2005

Of the three releases, the live album is the most consistently interesting. Recorded at three Belgian gigs in 2001 on the heels of September 11, One, Three, Two finds Golia switching off between eight different horns while headlining a first-rate quintet of longtime SoCal associates. (Very longtime, in fact: the remarkable brothers Cline have been playing with Golia since '76, Michael Vlatkovich since '81.) It's a good picture of what Golia does in a small group context—investigative free improv, both delicate and rambunctious, based around quicksilver original compositions which concern themselves more with texture and chaos than swing or groove. (The insistent, Alex Cline-fueled "Drum in the Circle of Stone and the Nels Cline-highjacked "The Happy, which respectively open and close the disc's second volume, are notable exceptions.)

As so often with Golia, the pieces are lengthy, rarely falling short of ten minutes and more often than not approaching twenty, which partly explains the disc's length; still, the double disc is simply too long for its own good. Judiciously culled to one, it might be indispensable.


Vinny Golia
A Gift for the Unusual: Music for Contrabass Saxophone
Music for Like Instruments; The Flutes
Nine Winds
2005

Similarly, A Gift for the Unusual and Music For Like Instruments; The Flutes each have their moments, but eventually they sag under their own weight. The former showcases Golia on the tubax, a dazzlingly flexible (at least in Golia's hands) variant of the unwieldy contrabass saxophone. It's startling to hear a horn this deep be so fluid and expressive and Golia again surrounds himself with some of the best players in the business (his witty duet with keyboardist Wayne Peet, "Eye My, is particularly choice).

But as good as the music is, there's simply too much of it; even the novelty of the tubax grows thin by the hour mark. Likewise, the all-flute, all-the-time lineup of the latter record is guaranteed to perk up the listener's ears, yet long before the disc's fifteenth and final composition, fascinating or not, it's all started to run together.


Track and Personnel Listings

One, Three, Two

Tracks: Disc One: Hexo-Lateral (for Buckminister Fuller); None That Are Giants; While All Are Away; On Behalf of My Benefactors; Prelude to The Orphans Disc Two: Drum in the Circle of Stone; Waiting, Waiting, Waiting; Make It Snappy; Yari; Bridge Made of Waters; The Happy Lonely Michael; An Alternative to Oregnum; On a Train; Dr. Lubbeck Pays a Visit, So Sam Phones Some Friends; Poece; Wasabi-One; Six-Ninety; Aquarina; the Machinery of History; The Everyday Phone Call (for Bobby Bradford); Wasabi-Two; Red Dirt; Wasabi-Three; Da A; Xenomorph.

Personnel: Vinny Golia: piccolo, C & alto flutes, sopranino, soprano and tenor saxophones, A clarinet and ocarina; Michael Pierre Vlatkovich: trombone; Nels Cline: electric guitar; Scott Walton (double-bass; Alex Cline: drums.

A Gift for the Unusual (Music for Contrabass Saxophone)

Tracks: 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.

Music for Like Instruments: The Flutes

Tracks: Lonely Micheal (The Last of the Wasabai series); An Alternative to Oregnum; On the Train; Dr. Lubbeck pays a visit, so Sam phones some friends; Poece; Wasabi-One; Six-Ninety; Aquarina; The Machinery of History; The Everyday Phone Call—for Bobby Bradford; Wasabi-Two; Red Dirt; Wasabi-Three; Da A; Xenomorph.

Personnel: Ellen Burr: piccolo: alto & C flutes; Vinny Golia: Db: G & C piccolos: C: alto: bass & contrabass flutes; Jennifer Roth: piccolo: alto & C flutes; Fawntice McCain: C flute.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Blues Deluxe 2 Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe 2
by Doug Collette
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient Africa" and Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie's "Live at A Space 1976" Multiple Reviews Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 2, 2017
Read Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out Multiple Reviews Margrete Grarup: Denmark's jazz secret is out
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space Multiple Reviews Tim Motzer: Wandering the Depths of Space
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient Africa" and Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie's "Live at A Space 1976"" Multiple Reviews Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Lee Morgan On Music Matters" Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Steel Guitar, Snow and Sunny Beaches: Five New Albums on Losen Records" Multiple Reviews Steel Guitar, Snow and Sunny Beaches: Five New Albums on...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF" Multiple Reviews Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Christmas Roundup 2016: Aguankó, Jeff Collins, & Vinnie Zummo" Multiple Reviews Christmas Roundup 2016: Aguankó, Jeff Collins, &...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.