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Reedman-composer Vinny Golia has found a home in playing scenarios of all stripes (orchestra, solo, and duets with collaborators from seemingly all walks of the improvisational spectrum), but the small-group format of the power trio is a favorite. Apparently the first in a two-volume set, Zero Degree Music, under the leadership of bassist-composer Adam Lane (who splits his time between the coasts), finds Golia thinning his arsenal to only tenor and soprano. Of course, anything lost on a smaller range is made up for entirely in the depth and rapport of this ensemble.
The set begins with the brief "To Avenue X, like all tunes here a Lane composition, with Golia's gutbucket tenor screaming out of the gates, prodded by the loose up-tempo swing of Lane and Bay Area drummer Vijay Anderson. "Spin with the Earth finds Golia on soprano ratcheting upward on modal trills as Lane and Anderson contribute their maddening sashays to what might be called a "freeway waltz" buried somewhere in the web of their cross-rhythms. "In Our Time opens with light washes of tenor and bass harmonics and cymbal flourishes, a canvas of subtle color daubs that gives itself over to hurled gobs and smears of sound, Anderson's rolls keeping the roiling trio on its painterly toes, until weariness and reservation bring the trio to its harmonic-vibrato beginnings.
Trane's rhythm section appears to be the blueprint for "Intonations for Being, which at its outset finds Lane and Anderson in a Garrison-Elvin mode, though Golia's soprano has a wanderlust for which any of the instrument's forbears carries only slight resonance. "The Genius of El Segundo might at first appear the twin of "Intonations in a rhythmic sense (save the stop-time hacking in the theme), though Golia's soprano takes on more greatly bent character that references both some of Steve Lacy's more metallic explorations and the microtonal character that the instrument takes on in more dervish-like hands. Lane and Anderson subject their vamp to a number of different shifts in character, breaking it apart and finding opportunities to separate its dance into two distinctive instrumental characters, all the while Golia's otherworldly trills engaging auto-dialogues above and around the slinking rhythm.
Though the oft-used term "power trio" might conjure ideas of a forceful blast of energetic heat from a post-Ayler maelstrom, the Adam Lane 3 offer what is truly the most lasting characteristic of the time-worn formata pliant and supple rhythmic-harmonic interplay that's equal on all sides. Whether one finds it in Spiritual Unity or Zero Degree Music, the power trio offers the force of feeling.