Vinny Golia is a virtuoso at being a multi-instrumentalist. These four discs, presenting two duos with bassists, one with a drummer and one trio with a bassist and a drummer, showcase Golia's capacity to create an infinite array of delightful contrasts out of a handful of very similar orchestrational settings.
The two duos with bassists could hardly be more distinct. The contemplative mood of The San Diego Session
with bassist Bertram Turetzky draws the listener's attention to both the subtle sonic intricacies of the dialogue and the space that each discreet event inhabits. "Confucian Conundrum" opens, with Golia on sheng, a Chinese instrument comprised of wooden vertical pipes. Across the next seven improvisations, Golia also plays soprillo (indeed, smaller and higher than a sopranino saxophone), Persian flute, bass saxophone, alto clarinet and Turkish flute. The patience with which the music proceeds leaves plenty of space to revel in the unique sounds produced by Golia and Turetzky. The latter's precise, measured execution of his vast array of extended techniques supports Golia's excursions, but also quite often sets up a sonic labyrinth through which Golia ventures with both patience and great purpose.
In contrast, Mythology
, with late German bassist Peter Kowald is a volcano of abstract expressionism. With a diverse array of textural colors, the emphasis is on the juxtaposition of gesture and contrasting directionality. Whereas Golia's duo with Turetzky could be seen to approach free improvisation as a state of beinga thoughtful look at the illusion of stasis that hides the frenetic passage of milliseconds and yearsGolia's duo with Kowald illustrates the stasis that exists within even the most careening, high-speed flow of energy. The tracks featuring Golia on the relatively conventional bass clarinet are particularly ear-grabbing, the very harmonic fabric of the instrument unwinding and shaking uncontrollably. Elsewhere, the physicality of Kowald's musicianship contrasts with the lightness of Golia's piccolo, followed by floating tarogato musings, suspended over Kowald's trademark arco-drone-with-throat-singing texture. In the next moment the breakneck pacing returns as alto clarinet and percussive bass careen endlessly.
with percussionist Brad Dutz is another affair entirely, as cultural references are juxtaposed in a compellingly unconventional fashion. "Cap Wearer from Scotland" features berimbau and bagpipes and later, "Tenors in Korea," "Swimming Risk in China," "Indigenous Coriander" and "Sofia and the Black Sea" all contrast gongs, frame drums, various saxophones, the Persian ney, shakuhachi and the Macedonian kavalalways dancing back and forth between abstraction and traditionally informed references. The effect on the listener is like film footage of daily life around the world, played back at various speedsslower, faster or agonizingly real-time. The area between abstraction and direct reference is profoundly unclear throughout and Golia and Dutz remain wholly in their realm of expertise, proving free improvisation to be a fertile context for cultural exchange.
It is clear from the downbeat that Großes Messer
, the lone trio record, is certain to have the most sound on it. Golia's partners here are bassist Damon Smith and drummer Weasel Walter. Both musicians epitomize the archetypal freestyle improviser whose distinct approach bears the mark of the extreme energy of their punk rock background. This is evident in even the most fragile moments on this record (and they are there, delicate but razor sharp). Amazingly, even amidst the most unbridled frenetic explosions, the subtler qualities of Smith's unorthodox techniques and Golia's snakelike phrasing are completely discernible (Walter's mixing does much to address Smith's reputed meticulous concern for sonic transparency in even the most extreme textures). Walter burns throughout, ebbing only to coax his partners to bring their own wooly intensity to the fore. Two duos between Golia and Smith and one between Golia and Walter provide new interactive dynamics but do not come off any less texturally robust. Golia's bass saxophone is superb on the opener, "Plançon A Picot" and "Lance, Bill And French Dirk" and the tightrope cat fight that closes the record, "Ranseur," delights in soprillo saxophone and upper-register bowed bass.
Tracks and Personnel The San Diego Session
Tracks: Confucian Conundrum; That One!; Reading Rumi; Meditations and Prayers; My Lady Nancy's Dompe; The Tzadik Dances; Il Italiano In Turco; Phantasmagoria.
Personnel: Vinny Golia: woodwinds; Bertram Turetzky: bass. Mythology
Tracks: Arco / Bb Clarinet; Pizz / Bass Clarinet; Arco / Bass Clarinet; Arco / Soprano; Prepare Pizz & Vocals / Piccolo; Arco & Vocal / Taragoto; Pizz / Ab Clarinet; Arco / Contra Alto Clarinet; Pizz / Baritone; Pizz / Alto Flute; Arco / Sopranino; Arco / A Clarinet; Pizz / Chinese Flute; Pizz / G Flute.
Personnel: Vinny Golia: woodwinds; Peter Kowald: bass. Duets
Personnel: Brad Dutz: percussion; Vinny Golia: woodwinds. Grosses Messer
Tracks: Plancon a Picot; Morning Star; Murder-Hole; Butterknife; Motte-and-Bailey; Mercygiver; Voulge; Siege Tower; Lance, Bill and French Dirk; Ranseur.
Personnel: Vinny Golia: bass, tenor, saxello and piccolo/soprillo saxophones; Damon Smith: bass; Weasel Walter: drums.