Vinny Golia plays postfreedom jazz in Los Angeles, and his recordings appear on a label with a Beverly Hills address: these things alone should tell you plenty about his stubborn iconoclasm and devotion to craft. (After all, the number “90210” doesn’t exactly make you flash on progressive music.) The first time he played Chicago, Golia packed up hurriedly after his performance, anxious for the chance to catch a late set by Von Freeman: that tells you something about his sense of both history and place. (Like Freeman, and even more so Fred Anderson, Golia has become an avant-garde father figure on his hometown music scene, setting the example for like-minded musicians a generation and two younger.) As an improvising reedman, Golia soars marvelously on saxes, clarinets, and flutes; on his latest quintet album, Against the Grain (Nine Winds), he brings body and warmth to his rigorous keenings on soprano sax and coaxes a lovely liquidity from both soprano and bass clarinets. But Golia has attracted more attention in recent years with his tough-minded, adventurous compositions. They feature hairpin turns, spectacular shifts of sonic scenery, and wizardly textural devices that extend the sound of his own technique to his ensemble. What’s more, his writing remains unimpeded by the format he chooses: pieces for both big bands and quintet brim with countermelodies and show his pinpoint control of instrumental colors, and he uses these tools to reveal the arc of each composition. Golia will bring to Chicago the quintet from Against the Grain, including a sparkling trumpeter in Rob Blakeslee and guitarist Nels Cline, a versatile soloist: he and bassist Ken Filiano combine to form a “string section” that Golia employs to special advantage. Sunday, 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Neil France.