The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble

Decennium Dans Axlan

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The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble becomes even larger here, bumped up to 22 pieces on its fourth album -- and the agenda remains as iconoclastic as ever, borrowing liberally form the classical avant-garde and owing little to what remains of a big band tradition. There is plenty of swinging, yet the solos are more often than not atonal; there are pauses in the action for freeform freakouts. "Tapestry of Things Before," which is joined to "Frontback" to form an exhausting 41-and-a-half-minute medley, opens with marimba over a berimbau (an esoteric effect if there ever was one), features a spooky, muffled electric cello solo by Dion Sorell, and continues through many diverse sections. Though Golia brings along his usual formidable battery of wind instruments, he is credited with only one solo on "Mr. Justice;" otherwise he plays in the section and conducts. Co-conductor Bruce Fowler also gets off one of the best solos on trombone; Mark Underwood, John Fumo and Rob Blakeslee form an intrepid trumpet section that gets to blast off in near-anarchy at the top of "Frontback," and the additional players consist of another mallets player and a string trio. The live sound is rather boxy and the solo instruments aren't always miked properly -- a possible sign of budget problems -- but there is still plenty of audible adventure, though earlier Large Ensemble albums have stronger material.

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