Vinny Golia Music For Like Instruments — The E flat Saxophones

Vinny Golia is an American West Coast reedman whose work spans nearly three decades. He is also the founder of the seminal Nine Winds label whose formidable catalogue is a virtual 26-year history of West Coast new music. This album is a tour de force of saxophone music composed and arranged by Golia, who plays a host of E flat horns (my favourite is a new instrument called a tubax, which is a 21st century contrabass sax). He is ably augmented by Beth Schenck, Jason Mears, and Nathan Herrera on alto saxophones, who definitely do not take back seats when it comes to the ensemble blowouts. The pieces themselves are varied and interesting with each retaining a definite character, whether it’s a rhythm based march feel or pure sound explorations. There are compositions that go into the same territory (especially in the ensemble improvisations) but this is a small criticism, considering the tendency for groups of "like instruments” to sound boring by midway through a CD unless they really pay attention to compositions and ideas. This one doesn’t bore. There is also a tendency to humour in this CD, which I find admirable; especially the pairing of the tubax with the song title "Schwarznegger.” Sax on steroids and funny as hell! (Nine Winds)