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Vinny Golia: Nine Woodwinds Blowing

Vinny Golia

It’s a balmy spring hump-day night in Los Angeles, and free-range reeds are holding forth in Gallery 4016, a large, live space in the area called Silverlake. In one corner, we have the veteran improviser from Germany, Wolfgang Fuchs, looking vaguely film noirish with his cropped hair and square-jawed visage. In the other, the long white-haired and black-clad Vinny Golia, the longtime left-field hero and avowed multireedist from Los Angeles. Joining in this all-improv evening are the impressive young reed players Chris Heenan and David Rothbaum. All were manning a reed collection ranging from soprano sax to contrabass clarinet. There’s also a heckling cricket in the house (“It’s a quintet,” jokes Fuchs, whose sensitive ear often takes into account the insect’s song this night). Over the course of two hours, the reed players pair off and conspire in quartets, bouncing their spectral tones off the gallery’s open rafters and concrete walls.

A few days after the Gallery 4016 show, Golia can be found an hour north, in the idyllic town of Ojai, working his reeds in the large ensemble gathered for an adventurous choral-meets-conduction piece called “The Alchemical Mass.” Written by trumpeter-composer Jeff Kaiser and performed by his Ockodektet and the straitlaced but game Ojai Camerata, the opus is an innovative church-based piece, with plenty of free blowing involved.

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