Vinny Golia

A Gift for the Unusual: Music for Contrabass Saxophone

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The thunderous growl of the Tubax may not be very widespread, but since German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim created this new member of the saxophone family, several jazzmen, especially those of provocative or experimental persuasions, have adopted it. Vinny Golia is one of them and may very well be the musician and composer who understood the quickest the full potential of the behemoth. On A Gift for the Unusual, Golia presents new and fairly recent solo and ensemble pieces written for the Tubax, a surprisingly flexible and powerful contrabass saxophone. This is not the instrument of choice for a serenade, but Golia still manages to squeeze a serious dose of lyricism out of it, along with rumbling drones, rocking vamps and all kinds of jagged melodies and fierce solos. The solo pieces explore various aspects of the instrument's sound without turning into didactical exercises. The ten-minute "A History of Everything That Ever Happened" is actually a phenomenal showcase, full of punchy licks and roaring extended techniques. The five-times overdubbed piece "Just Something I Thought Of" is somewhat less convincing, as the sound picture gets a bit blurry. More interesting is the low-end grouping in "Repetition" and "The Mozart of Vice," both pieces featuring Michael Vlatkovitch on trombone and Bill Casale on contrabass. Also appearing on the album are Wayne Peet (playing piano on two tracks, organ on one, and electric piano, theremin, and synth on another), Jessica Catron (cello) and harmonicist Bill Barrett of Steuart Liebig's the Mentones. The album concludes with the beautiful "The Last of Its Kind," a three-minute Tubax dirge with a meditative gordophone melody.