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Vinny Golia

Los Angeles, CA   

Vinny Golia is a multi-faceted composer, performer, and bandleader. He plays over 50 woodwind instruments, including saxophones from soprillo to contrabass, clarinets from Ab to contrabass, flutes from Eb piccolo to contrabass, bassoon, English horn, tárogató, gaida, and shakuhachi. He also plays gongs and Himalayan singing bowls. Golia’s work is designed to create interplay between soloistic improvisation, collective communications, structured compositional elements and guided group improvisations.

He is a constant live performer, sharing his music with concert audiences in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Golia delights in cross-genre collaborations and instrumental experimentation, and has formed many ensembles varying dramatically in size and instrumentation – from mixed quintets, saxophone quartets, sextets, and duos, to arrangements for jazz and classical orchestras. His acclaimed Large Ensemble, formed in 1982, performs with 50+ members. Golia has been a featured performer with Anthony Braxton, Henry Grimes, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Joelle Leandre, Leo Smith, Horace Tapscott, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Bertram Turetzky, George Lewis, Barre Phillips, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, Patti Smith, Harry “the Hipster” Gibson, Eugene Chadburne, Kevin Ayers, Peter Kowald, John Bergamo, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennick, Lydia Lunch, Harry Sparrney, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. 

As a composer, Golia has won numerous awards, including grants from The National Endowment of the Arts, Meet the Composer, The Lila Wallace Commissioning Program, The California Arts Council,  Clausen Foundation of the Arts, Funds for U.S. Artists, and the American Composers Forum. He has composed nationally and internationally for Ballet and Modern Dance, video, theatrical productions, and film.

In his writing and playing, Golia synthesizes a variety of musical styles – the jazz traditions of Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Gil Evans; the mid-20th century timbral explorations of composers such as Edgard Varese, Maurice Ohana, and Olivier Messiaen; the Spectral composers like Murail, and DuFort; and the vast palette of world music uniquely available in greater Los Angeles.

Critics and readers of music journals have consistently picked Golia’s recordings for their yearly “ten best” lists. Jazziz magazine named him as one of the 100 people who have influenced the course of Jazz in our century. The Jazz Journalists Association honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Golia has continually placed in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll for Baritone & Soprano Saxophone, and in 2013 he won the Downbeat Critic’s Poll in the “New Star” category for Baritone Saxophone. He won the LA Weekly’s Award for “Best Jazz Musician” in 1999, ranked 1st in the Cadence Magazine Writers & Readers Poll in 1998, and in 1990 was the winner of the Jazz Times TDWR award for Bass Saxophone.

For the past 20 years, Golia has been a professor at California Institute for the Arts, where in 2009 he was appointed the first holder of the Michel Colombier Performer Composer Chair. He has served as Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at San Diego since 1998.  As an educator, he has lectured on music & painting composition, improvisation, Jazz History, the history of music in film, and CD & record manufacturing and self-production, throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand and Canada.

End Credits to The Serpent’s Lair, by Vinny Golia

The closing credit theme to a movie called The Serpent’s Lair.
Vinny Golia: “I wrote this piece to feature myself on contra alto clarinet, and also to feature many of the other musicians who played on the score. It’s in a modulating time cycle and has an unusual harmonic progression.”

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Washroom, by Vinny Golia

From the score to a movie called The Pass.

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The Harder Blues, by Vinny Golia

“The Harder Blues is a piece for Bb saxophone ensemble. The concept of this ensemble was to work with saxophones with the same fundamental pitch so the overtones of each instrument involved would blend more, as opposed to the traditional saxophone quartet where the overtones are not matched by fundamental.”
-Vinny Golia

From the album Vinny Golia ‎– Music For Like Instruments: The Bb Saxophones (Nine Winds Records).

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