|To borrow a moniker from the superstar world of chefs, Vinny Golia should now be addressed as “Molto Golia.” Besides playing more instruments than any musician working today, he plays in more combinations and groups than just about any working jazzman. From his very large ensembles, to big band, and all the way down to solo performance, he has produced challenging music for the past thirty years.
Feeding Frenzy is subtitled Music For Woodwinds & String Quartet. Golia’s mission here is to shape chamber music into jazz, by making a chamber ensemble a jazz quartet. He does just that by accompanying a pair of violins, a cello, and bass with clarinets and flutes. He eschews his saxophones so as not to overpower his partners. Most recently he released an album of solo performances Clarinet on the Meniscus label, that highlighted his strong woodwind playing.
Here he plays eight different clarinets and five different flutes. The music generally starts inside and, as custom, explores some outward tendencies. The presence of bassist Ken Filiano keeps this project a jazz outing. On the opening track “Title Sequence” Filiano walks his base as if accompanying four horn players. And that’s just it, Golia’s choice of clarinet and flute graciously works along side his violin and cello friends. They play scattered cartoon music, “Death Of The Tremelo,” big city broad shouldered music, “Bare-handed Cricket Catch,” and Aaron Copeland finds dissonance on ”Subterfuge.”
Thoughout Golia displays technique galore from the breathy flute pops on “She’s Joan Raymond” to overblown clarinet on “When Elephants Come Waltzing Through Your Living Room.” This Feeding Frenzy fracas is another successful venture for Vinny Golia.
~ Mark Corroto
One Final Note Review: Feeding Frenzy finds Golia and his boatload of flutes and clarinets among a string quartet of two violins, cello and bass (the latter handled by the astonishing Ken Filiano).
This quartet has a dark and roiling sound and Golia's compositions play to this color. They're knotty and somber, full of seriousness of purpose. "Did I Forget To Mention That?" is typical. The low strings play a determined line against the brighter and more mercurial violins. Golia's clarinet darts between them, a salmon, grimly swimming upstream. In "Barehanded cricket catch", the strings try to surround a piping piccolo. They grab a whirling figure and we're in the middle of a flock of sparrows.
The other extreme of the animal kingdom is evoked in the closing "When Elephants Then Come Waltzing Through Your Living Room" as Golia charms away a motoric, double-stopped string figure with dancing clarinet to clear the way for a galumphing pachyderm in the person of the contrabass clarinet. It's fun to listen to, but even here, a sense of claustrophobia often creeps in. Still, this is audacious music, the product of a first-rate musical imagination. It's just not quite the near-masterpiece that Music for Like Instruments is.
Vinny Golia (piccolo, G,C, Alto & bass flutes, Eb, Bb, A, Alto, Bass, Contra-Alto & Contra Bass clarinets); Ludwig Girdland, Harry Scorzo (violin); Jonas Tauber (cello); Ken Filiano (bass)