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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vinny Golia Sextet - Abstractions and Retrocausalities (NineWinds, 2011)****½

By Paul Acquaro

Vinny Golia's Abstractions And Retrocausalities is not only a mouthful to say but also an album to really sink your teeth into. It's a masterful dish of composed and free passages that mix seemlessly into a lively work.

Working with a sextet gives Golia an exciting assortment of textures and tones which he employes to great effect over the course of the album's 11 tunes. From delicate melodies to chunky power chords that pummel and propel and a rhythm section that is often effectively spare, the songs are festooned with complex melodies and harmonies yet are also very accessible. From the first tune, "Why would a whale Act like this? (God help us all!...another SyFY Channel Original Movie?)", to the last, "Full Moon (so thats a piano)", there is great diversity between the voices and rhythms. Off-kilter syncopations and vibrant solos come together in music that blends rock, jazz and free playing masterfully.

Golia plays an assortment of woodwinds, ranging from the delicate wood flute to the authoritative bass saxophone and tubax. His tonal and melodic choices are perfect, and the same can be said of trumpeter Dan Rosenboom and alto sax player Gavin
 Templeton. The mid point "BTSO (big time secret organization)" is a highlight, starting with a flute and becomes an upbeat has a bit of a feel reminiscent of an Ornette Coleman tune. The saxophone, drums and guitar on blocked in are tight and sympathetic to each other the excellent display musicianship. An obvious anchor of the group is Jon Armstrong's punchy electric bass and Andrew Lessman's sympathetic and driving percussion. The song "Maboo" is a wonderful example of the interplay between musicians. The woodwind solo churns, grinds and builds into a knotty and beautiful mess of notes. This is followed by Alex Noice's killer guitar solo. It rocks, shreds and then explodes, propelled by some creative percussion work from Lessman.

It would seem that I have nothing but superlatives for this album. There are things you that feel familiar and exciting, but at the same time utterly unique. Its engaging rhythms, compositional parts, compelling free improvisation and overall upbeat vibe add up to a lot to recommend. The recording is also third in a series fom Nine Winds that is meant to bring attention to some of the up and coming west coast musicians. Prior to this recording was Set One by The Walsh Set Trio and Fallen Angels by The Daniel Rosenboom Septet. Gauging fom the quality of this series, there is little to worry regarding the talent coming from Southern California.

Watch Vinny Golia Sextet @ Angel City Jazz Festival:

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