Vinny Golia Large Ensemble 20th Anniversary Concert

Golia’s band is one of the fixtures on the West Coast avant-garde scene, an awesomely large ensemble (35 players in this edition) whose sound Marc Lowenstein memorably describes in the accompanying interview featurette as "a very heavy, heavy, delicate thing... a freight train on racing bicycle wheels.” It’s a band full of outsize personalities who approach the leader’s insane, virtually unplayable scores in a spirit of carnivalesque role-play, a whirlwind tour of stylistic masks and outlandish gestures. Visually, this is a rough and ready document stitched together from digi-cam footage and the occasional still, but it’s still more absorbing than many slicker productions —there’s just something inherently transfixing about watching musicians blowing their hearts out. There are too many high points to list but Kim Richmond and Bill Plake’s twin sax rampage on "The Long Short Nite” takes top honours, and ex-Zappa trombonist Bruce Fowler’s wise old owl contributions are a consistent delight. (Nine Winds, www.ninewinds.com)