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Vinny Golia: Sfumato and Music for Like Instruments; The Clarinets

Jeff Stockton By

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Vinny Golia Quartet
Clean Feed

Vinny Golia
Music for Like Instruments; The Clarinets
Nine Winds

The increase in the number of recently released solo piano CDs could be a direct result of the popularity of the piano-less quartet. The Vinny Golia Quartet on Sfumato is just a little bit different. It's piano-less, as well as alto- (and tenor-) less, as the leader sticks to a few of the more conventional instruments in his vast repertoire (soprano sax, bass clarinet, contrabass flute), giving the music on the CD an element of fresh surprise. Veteran trumpeter Bobby Bradford lends his dark tone and mucousy phrasing to Golia's compositions, pushing the tunes with concentrated effort and precise timing. The rhythm section of Alex Cline on drums and Ken Filiano is rock solid and liquid quick with Filiano particularly impressive, whether producing a chunky sound with his fingers or a magisterial sound with his bow. Over the last 30 years, Golia has released a lot of music characterized by a gift for the unusual. Sfumato is the Golia Quartet playing it straight, if not entirely straight-ahead.

The clarinet doesn't necessarily have a reputation as an instrument of the avant-garde. Put five of them together in one ensemble, however, and the concept is creatively risky, at least. The Clarinets is the third in Vinny Golia's "Music for Like Instruments series, but this five horn lineup is not without precedent (Bluiett's Clarinet Family, Brötzmann's Clarinet Project and the Clarinet Summit come to mind). Where this group differs from the usual Bb and bass clarinet attack is Golia, who is listed as playing no fewer than eight licorice sticks in different keys, with a taragato thrown in for a little variety on "Blugger! . The compositions favor group improvisation and interplay and run the gamut from high-pitched and peppy on "Clown Car Syndrome to "Well Beneath the Sleeping Floor , a low-end tone poem featuring Golia's leonine purr on contrabass clarinet. Each soloist has his moment, but it's the leader's alto clarinet solo on "Played 2 or 3 Times that delivers the sharpest cut.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: That Was for Albert Phase 3; All Together Now; CBQ241; Monday at Eight, Just Black & White; That Was for Albert Phase 5; NBT; Transition of Power; Repetition; Small Group Caught in the Reel World

Personnel: Vinny Golia: soprano and sopranino sax, bass clarinet, Bb clarinet, G and contrabass flutes; Bobby Bradford: trumpet; Ken Filiano: bass; Alex Cline: drums

Music for Like Instruments; The Clarinets

Tracks: Clown Car Syndrome; The Flaming Valve; Accumulation; You Were the One Who Drew First; Which One Is the Real Dr. Otto; Hand as Tongue; Monuments of Broken Balloons and Burnt Promises; Blugger!; Played 2 or 3 Times; Why Is That Thing So Pointy?; Well Beneath the Sleeping Floor; Five Solo Statements on the Disappearance of Elfego Bacca; Tricostomy

Personnel: Vinny Golia: taragoto, Ab, Eb, A, Bb, alto, bass, contralto & contrabass clarinets; Andrew Pask: Bb & bass clarinets; Cory Wright: Bb & bass clarinets; Jim Sullivan: G, Bb & bass clarinets; Brian Walsh: Bb & bass clarinets


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