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About George Golla
Locations on either side of the world claim this busy jazz guitarist as a native son. Born in Poland, George Golla began studying clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, bass, and flute as a youth. When he emigrated to Australia as a teenager, he had still not figured out that guitar was going to be the instrument that he would earn a living with. He finally switched to the frets at the age of 21 and, by 1957, was a busy local player on the Sydney scene. His first professional experience was with Gus Marzi in the opening stages of Australian television. He got his foot in the door at the right time, since a long career as a studio musician followed, helping to support the jazz habit as practiced in Sydney honky tonks such as the El Rocco, Sky Lounge, and other venues in the prehistoric days of the Australian jazz scene.
By the end of the '50s, he had begun collaborating with Don Burrows, and if it is true that all musicians have at least one great partnership, this would be the one for Golla, by golly. It was also an association that resulted in regular markings in the date book, since Burrows ascended to a status as a grand old man of the Australian scene, with a workload worthy of that title. The pair scored highly for Australian jazz with 1972 appearances at both the prestigious Montreux and Newport Jazz Festival. The following year, Golla and Burrows were featured along with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the composition "Nexus" by Don Banks, and kept busy with a series of tours around Australia, Asia, and Brazil. The guitarist has also performed for 14 years on Eric Jupp's Magic of Music, The Bryan Davis Show, Don Lane's Tonight show, Bandstand, and many other television programs. The jazz scholars of down under estimate that this guitarist has cut some 100 albums; many of these seem to be hiding under kangaroo pelts in terms of having left any recognizable discographical debris in their wake. He did record with Stephane Grappelli as part of this violinist's Australian ensemble in 1977, and Golla's orchestra record entitled Lush Life was voted Jazz Album of 1986 by the Australian Recording Industry Association panel.
Some jazz fans find his playing on Brazilian numbers to be his most evocative and heartfelt work, especially the collaborative meetings with Luiz Bonfa. The endless series of music by John Sangster based on the Lord of the Rings books, numbering some seven vinyl slabs if not more, is a good place to find snatches of Golla getting freaky. In 1985, he was awarded the Order of the Australian Empire for his services to the country's music scene, notwithstanding these probes into Middle Earth. Many might argue that the influence of his teaching career is even greater than that of his playing, although the two are intertwined like a set of jumbled guitar strings. It is hard to find an Australian jazz musician who doesn't claim to have been influenced by Golla through either a master class or clinic, and most of the continent's guitarists studied with him privately, including many heavy rockers. One of his largest teaching projects is supervising the Academy of the Guitar at the Sydney Conservatorium. ~ Eugene Chadbourne