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Vinny Golia Large Ensemble: Portland 1996

Results from the early days of third stream music were spotty because the jazz musicians were unlikely to have much knowledge of modern classical developments while their classical counterparts often lacked even much interest in jazz. Nowadays many avant-gardists in each camp have a working knowledge of both disciplines and mutual respect and trust are relatively easy to come by. The impressively seamless blend on this enjoyable disc is a result. The reference points from each tradition are not as avant as those used by people like ROVA or Braxton; the classical composers that come to mind are more Milhaud, Berg, or Henze than Webern, Boulez, or Carter, and there’s a swinging drive to most of the proceedings. Of the soloists, I particularly enjoyed Kim Richmond’s Tchicai-influenced alto, the leader’s sopranino, and Wayne Peet’s messianic pipe organ. There is a lot of reliance on riffing behind the soloists, the riffs being more like Stravinsky than Basie, but Golia also uses the contrasting colors of his 20-plus-piece group to great effect. The fact that the writing isn’t overly ambitious gives the musicians the chance to make the music come to life, which they seem to relish. This is a solid, intelligent accomplishment, and a lot of fun to boot.

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