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Vinny Golia: Feeding Frenzy

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Reedist Golia first put together the group on Feeding Frenzy, temporarily, in 1997, and only reconvened the band after being pestered by violinist Harry Scorzo. Everything here sounds so right that it would be a shame if Golia let this project lapse again.

On Feeding Frenzy, Golia decided to forgo all saxes and sticks with clarinets and flutes. He also through-composes much of the music, which has moments of dissonance and harsh contrast but never completely abandons structure. He tosses in plenty of dramatic and accessible melodies for the violins, and often uses something as simple as an ostinato from bassist Ken Filiano to tie things all together.

Golia, who asks his string players to plow through some fairly instrument-unfriendly music, gives each piece its own identity with signature sounds and structures, like the sliding-tone melodies in “She’s Joan Raymond,” or the two-note call-and-response pattern of the ballad “Things the Dobsons Could Have Taught Us.” Even though Golia stands out as the lone wind player, he treats this as a collective project and very rarely takes on a traditional soloist’s role. He seems far more interested in finding new and different ways to interact within the group sound; he spends plenty of time laying out the foundation on bass clarinet, diving into the tangled harmonies with the violins, or even sitting out and letting his ensemble work. With every tune, he finds perverse satisfaction in blending with both the standard and wildly nonstandard sounds coming from the strings. It’s an impressive display of invention-especially so when Golia sticks to the clarinets-which would not work nearly so well without the strong contributions from the ensemble (Filiano, Harry Scorzo and Ludwig Girdland on violin and Jonas Tauber on cello).

Feeding Frenzy owes its success equally to his band as it does to Golia.