California saxophonist Vinny Golia is highly regarded among musicians for his uncanny lyricism, his strident, warm, giving tone, and his vast composing and arranging skills, but he is seldom looked upon in fan polls or even considered by popular jazz critics. One has to wonder if this isn't Golia's own fault for not blowing his own horn hard enough, so to speak. Golia's many recordings all have a degree of excellence to them that is almost unsurpassable by any current standard. Nation of Laws is no exception. Using his own multi-reed approach to composition and improvisation and his knack for lyrical composition that gives way to fiery improvisation, Golia has enlisted guitar and drum brothers Nels and Alex Cline along with Joel Hamilton on bass and trumpeter Rob Blakeslee. Golia's tunes have within them a playfulness to cross genres and harmonic norms and shift gears suddenly. Nowhere is this more evident than on the piece "Not Very Pleasance," which is part bebop tune, part elegant dance tune, and part prog rocker! Blakeslee's solo is full of flatted fifths and 16ths drawn in by Cline's mind-bending string work. Then there's the joyously weird "Big Child on the Loose." (That sums up Golia's personality to a T.) Beginning as a blues-rocker with Cline soloing on his low strings, the tune kicks in as part carnival ride, part Wagnerian epic, and part knotty jazz jam (with Golia blowing his ass off on the bass saxophone), and moves through history, mystery, death, and resurrection over 14 minutes. If this album is what the "new" jazz sounds like folks, count me way in.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek