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Album Review

Vinny Golia does it once again, this time with a saxophone-only project limited to woodwind instruments broadly related to the Eb saxophone family. As with Anthony Braxton, Golia thoroughly enjoys the extremes of the instrument, and he is particularly effective when juxtaposing either the contrabass saxophone (the tubax), or the baritone saxophone, against the much higher registers of the three alto saxophones, a fascinating contrast that he explores on a majority of the tracks. In some ways, comparisons to the World Saxophone Quartet and Rova are warranted, one major difference being that Golia is not nearly as democratic; he dominates as soloist, composer, and arranger. The pieces are complex, and difficult to perform, but they are played with remarkable precision on alto sax by the supporting crew, Beth Schenck, Jason Mears, and Nathan Herrera, each of whom improvises with substantial maturity and intensity of spirit. Much of the success of this project is due to Golia's writing skills, and he is equally comfortable in many different contexts, squeezing out astonishing permutations from four similar instruments. Golia resists pigeonholing: One minute he embraces melody, and the next he is tearing it to shreds. Ultimately, that is part of the appeal, and it is a compelling tool used to maintain the listener's interest. For those who like it hot and outside, there are many moments to savor, but there are just as many times when Golia is fascinated by the natural sonorities of the sax. Alternatively wild and iconoclastic, Golia does not as much shock as he surprises, leading us to question our assumptions, and scratch our heads: What's it all about, Alfie?


Born: March 1, 1946 in New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Since 1971, when multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia gave up painting to pursue music full time, he has worked internationally as a composer, bandleader, and performer in jazz and other creative musics. Golia draws influences from jazz, world music, and contemporary classical music, and has performed in Europe, Japan, and North America in a multitude of ensembles. He plays 20 different woodwinds (as well as some ethnic aerophones), has placed many times in the Downbeat critic's poll on various instruments,...
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Music For Baritone Saxophone, Vinny Golia
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