Vinny Golia

Meniscus / 008

Vinny Golia /clarinet

Vinny Golia’s clarinet is as sweet as birdsong, and it’s astonishing to read that this is his first solo recording for twewnty years. He sticks to Bb Clarinet here, which makes a welcome change from the multi-instrumentalism which is so often a means of keeping a perceived risk of boredom at bay in solo reeds projects.

Another choice soloists often make is to record either brief “haiku” (o most offputting term) or extremely long, structureless jams. It’s easy to see why both routes are tempting ones to take, but this disk cotains nine medium-long tracks (broadly between five and ten minutes) which in itself is actually quite unusual. Pieces of this length require some identity of their own, but also some development beyond the sketchiness of the short form.


Vinny Golia / Photo: Peter Gannushkin

Fortunately Golia is adept at improvising at this length. He has a flowing, apparently easy melodicism and a timbral palette which ranges from round notes which taste of umamu all the way to crashing multiphonics and ultra-high-pitch squeaks. None of these more avant techniques is used for mere punctuation or dramatic effect, however; Golia has a little of Steve Lacy in his playing, and he’s a singer first and foremost.

It’s great to hear a solo reeds album which doesn’t feel under pressure to be a manifesto or a calling-card. Although he’s not as well-known as he ought to be, Golia’s voice is a well-established one by now and the self-assurance on show here is as impresssive as the virtuosity. Highly recommended. Richard Cochrane