No one had any doubts what instrument little Vinnie would play, although in addition to toy drums he had an electric guitar, and for some time he took organ lessons. In fairness, it should be noted that the guy was not lucky at first. After toy drums with paper heads, his parents bought him a semi-professional Japanese set, on which he played with might and main with his classmates. But his teacher at a school in Pennsylvania told Vinnie that he was better off playing some other instrument due to an overabundance of drummers. So the young musician had to learn to play the flute for a whole year. As soon as a vacancy appeared in the drum class, Vinnie transferred there. As you know, most beginner musicians are attracted by the external paraphernalia of the profession, especially when it comes to such a winning instrument as drums. There is no time for painstaking study of musical notation, rudiments and other boring things. The future "monster" of drums turned out to be clearly not one of the frivolous students. From the very beginning, Kolyata took his future specialty with great seriousness. He was constantly busy. Vinnie even came to English lessons with sticks and practiced “deuces” at the back of the desk, for which he was repeatedly expelled.
At the age of fourteen, Vinnie got his first professional drum set. Despite the fact that almost all of the young musician's previous experience consisted of playing the snare drum, he did not face much difficulty when he moved to the drum kit. He just played. Surprisingly, coordination problems hardly touched him. This ability to instantly adapt to an unfamiliar situation will help the musician more than once in the future. When listening to the Frank Zappa ensemble, Kolyata, without hesitation, will sit down at Terry Bozzio's instrument with two bass drums and play on such a set for the first time in his life. A little over ten years later, Kolyutha will accept an invitation from her daughter, Boddy Rich, to participate in a drum show dedicated to her father's memory. The program included works from the repertoire of the Rich Orchestra. And once again Vinnie is on top. Having never played in a big band before, Kolyata deals with the two pieces offered to him with inimitable brilliance. It was one of the best performances on the show. In a seemingly new situation for himself, Vinnie feels like a fish in water. He boldly takes risks, performing passages of fantastic complexity, impeccably observing the style of orchestral playing, which was a stumbling block for most of the participants in the show, who also encountered such aesthetics for the first time. But, back to school years.
In high school, Kolyata still studies a lot, plays with local musicians. After graduating from school, Vinnie continues to play music in various ensembles. At this time, he first heard about the famous Berkeley College in Boston from his colleagues. The reputation of this educational institution was impeccable in those years, and Kolyuta was on fire with the idea to enter there. An additional impetus in this direction was the arrival of the orchestra in which Steve Smith, then a student at Berkeley, played drums. Vinnie was shocked by Steve's game, and the two young men became friends. In addition, according to Kolyata himself, he felt a lack of knowledge in the field of music theory and composition.
And finally, Vinnie Kolyuta arrived in Boston. Your humble servant studied at the same college ten years later and is ready to share our hero's impressions of the educational system and the general atmosphere in this citadel of modern music education to a large extent. On the first day, Vinnie saw 800 drummers and about 1,500 guitarists at Berklee, instead of the expected Buddy Rich, who would have to walk around the classroom and say something like: “I like this trombonist. Will you join the orchestra with me?" Such a practice did take place in those days, but mainly at final exams or on the recommendation of fellow musicians. This is how Joe Zawinul got into Maynard Fergusson's orchestra in the late 1950s. It remains a mystery how Kolyuta determined the number of drummers and guitarists, but there really are an incredible number of them. Contrary to popular belief, only a tiny percentage of Berklee graduates become professional musicians. The administration's flexible policy allows talented students to study for a very nominal fee at the expense of unpromising children of wealthy parents and "targeted" students from abroad who pay the full cost. So the incredible number of students is easily explained by the relative affordability (not financial) of education. I happened to meet at Berkeley with a student from Brunei, whose studies at the Faculty of Commercial Arrangement were paid for by the state. The prince of this Asian state was obsessed with the idea of creating a variety orchestra. So, the guy was paid not only for education, but also for food and accommodation at the Hilton Hotel. Of course, he did not live in the Hilton, but rented a modest room on the outskirts of the city. With the money saved, he was able to support his family in Brunei. In addition, thanks to his remarkable abilities, by the time we met, he was in college for the seventh year, thus supporting poor talents.
Like all new arrivals, Kolayuta passes the test and begins to study theoretical subjects in addition to drums. It should be noted that the system of teaching arrangement and solfeggio at Berkeley is very harmonious and logical. Students receive basic knowledge without any subtleties and frills. As a result, following the rules, everyone is able to write an arrangement that will sound normal, and the rest is a matter of talent and desire. In two semesters, Vinnie Kolyata could arrange for six wind instruments. His desire for knowledge was very strong. Vinny seriously studies composition, but... a year later he decides that his calling is to play, and for arranging and composing there are other guys "who make a living from this." As for the drums, Kolyata goes to Cary Chafee, the most popular teacher to this day, the author of the "linear" drumming system. Polyrhythms and odd groupings against the background of funk rhythms form the basis of this method. Rhythms are based on non-combination of beats in different limbs. In other words, the notes of a rhythmic pattern line up. The system is designed for continuous learning over several semesters. Inquisitive Winnie masters this system within one semester. Therefore, subsequent lessons with Chafee turn into joint music playing and listening to recordings by Tony Williams (Tone Williams). Steve Smith also becomes a member of these impromptu jams.
Kolayuta's aspirations are in areas, one way or another, associated with jazz, but the practical situation takes its toll. He needs to pay rent and bills. Jazz doesn't make any money, and Vinnie plays mostly in the Top 40 gigs. Of course, this influenced the formation of the musician's style. Very often, prosaic matters, and not some considerations of a higher order, play a decisive role in the life and creative style of the great. Due to lack of money, Kolyuta drops out of school and for the next two years lives in Boston and plays with Boston musicians.
Chafee strongly recommends that the young musician go to New York, considering him well-prepared for a serious professional career. But Kolyuta remains in Boston for some time, gaining the necessary experience. In particular, he enters the studio for the first time and records with Al Cooper (Al Kooper). Here he encounters another side of his profession. Up to this point, Vinnie thinks that his job is to play well, but studio work also requires an appropriate sound from his drums. Over time, having entered the world elite of studio musicians, Kolyata will come to the conclusion that there is something mystical in achieving the desired drum sound, not directly dependent on the quality of the instrument, the condition of the plastics, etc. I fully share this point of view. I think that every musician involved in studio work has come across a situation where top-class drums “refuse” to sound in the studio and, conversely, drums of very dubious quality with old heads begin to sound after some incomprehensible manipulations with adhesive tape and microphones . The young musician's first studio work experience was not very successful. Saved the friendly attitude of the producer and colleagues. Hearing the sound of his instruments after the first take, Kolyata was horrified. He expected a scandal. But he was very gently asked to rearrange the instruments in a certain way, and, in the end, by joint efforts, the desired sound was found. In many years, Vinnie will rate this record as "terrifying".
In January 1978, Kolyuta moved to Los Angeles. After several difficult months, Vinnie learns that Frank Zappa is looking for a rhythm section. Being a fan of the work of this musician, Kolyata decides to try his luck. He calls Zappa's office, tries to send a demo, but to no avail. Apparently the lack of recommendations makes this work unattainable. But perseverance does its job - Kolyata receives an invitation to audition. The same thing that was discussed at the beginning of the article. Kolyata plays an instrument that is completely new to him, but the music is partially familiar to him. Before the start of the game, he has the opportunity to watch how his competitors are tapped. On average, each drummer takes 15 seconds from the master. The problem is either reading from the page or playing the rhythm. Kolyata, to his own surprise, reads the rather complicated piece "Pedro's Dowry" without mistakes and then successfully plays another one in size 21/16 together with Zappa. Subsequently, the ability to play freely in complex sizes will become Winnie's strong point. Evidence of this is the 1984 Zildjian Day show, where he demonstrated his improvisational abilities in 7/4 time. His concept is disarmingly simple: "I just play groups of 2 and 3 notes." But how much freedom and elegance! Kolyata recommends counting aloud to begin with, and then, as you gain a sense of comfort in this size, simply rely on rhythmic intuition. Vinnie's old friend Steve Smith has released a great video on odd structures in 4/4 time. This is an even more difficult task - gaining polymetric freedom (three in four, five in four, etc.). Another aspect of this problem is elaborated by the aforementioned Gary Chafee. We are talking about the use of quintoles, septoles and other odd groups that fit into a unit of a given meter. Chafee brilliantly uses the tonal palette of the kit in playing these structures, creating a "suspended" sound.
So, after fifteen minutes of listening and four to five plays played, Kolyata gets a job in his idol's group. But to Vinnie's surprise, Zappa doesn't want him to play a big kit with two bass drums. Kolyuta had a small Gretsch kit with a 20" kick at that time, and Zappa liked it. True, Vinnie changed everything over time, and at the end of cooperation with Frank, his installation included two kicks, one electronic kick, two snare drums (one electronic), several toms, roto-toms, etc. etc. The concept of using two drums is interesting: Kolayata plays them even in unison, creating a powerful low-frequency groove base. Zappa aimed Kolayata at performing complex polyrhythmic structures. very refined rhythmic guitarist, he demanded that Vinnie not only accompany, but listen carefully to him and play the same figures on the drums. Zappa wanted musical communication at a higher level, and this forced Kolayata to turn on all the reserves. Many hours spent in childhood in the attic playing in odd sizes, definitely helped Vinnie in his professional work. But not every partner understood such a complex language. In other words, when Kolyata "fly away l to Mars" in their improvisations, not everyone was able to stay within a meter, which became apparent after "returning to Earth". And this did not directly depend on the degree of professional training of the partner. Kolyauta himself cites as an example a guitarist who could hardly make out the notes and hardly knew exactly the size in which he played, but at the same time he was always "in place". He just felt the pulse. Here another musical and ethical problem arises - the mutual trust of partners. The drummer must be sure of the reliability of the partners, and colleagues, in turn, must be sure that the drummer knows what he is doing. Then everything falls into place.
The desire to devote himself to studio work forces Kolayata to leave Zappa's ensemble. Vinnie wants to test himself as a studio musician, realizing that the ability to express himself in a concert situation does not mean that he will be able to work in the studio as well. Bassist Neil Stubenhaus invited Kolyata to his first recording and later became his permanent partner. Vinnie likes the specifics of working in the studio. This requires serious professional skills from the musician, as well as knowledge of styles. Indeed, in most cases, the notes brought by the author indicate only the size and number of measures, interspersed with the general game, and what kind of music will come out of this depends almost entirely on the performer, his ability to interpret. Vinnie is quickly establishing himself as the number one position among Los Angeles studio drummers. As a rule, he immediately determines what character of the game suits this or that musical situation. And even if the producer does not agree with Kolyata's ideas, after a few hours, having tried a dozen styles, he is forced to admit that Vinnie was right. Already in the first years of his work, Kolyata recorded with such stars as Joni Mitchell (Yohny Michll), Richard Perry (Richard Perry), Pat Williams (Pat Williams), Nancy Wilson (Nancy Wilson), Tom Scott.
At one time Gino Vanelli's "Night Walker" record was extremely popular in the former Soviet Union. This music was clearly different from everything that was produced in America at that time. Vivid melodism, magnificent arrangements and, first of all, Vanelli's European compositional thinking made his music so attractive to our listeners. Recently, the famous New York Blue Note Club hosted a Vanelli concert, which has never been very popular in the United States, and in our time, in general, is thoroughly forgotten. So, there were ninety percent of Russians in the hall. Vanelli himself was quite surprised and delighted. There is no doubt that Kolyuta's performance on this album became the defining moment of the band's sound. Despite the verbosity (in our time, the reader is unlikely to hear such rich drum parts anywhere), all the tracks, without exception, are distinguished by amazing clarity and logic of presentation. An interesting fact is that "Night Walker" was recorded for a month from twelve in the afternoon to six in the evening. And from six to midnight, Kolyuta recorded a record with Jay Graydon. All the material was well rehearsed, and from the very beginning Graydon's musicians, including Kolyut, were very optimistic. But, after the first day, when several plays were recorded and the musicians, very pleased with their work, like boys, jumped around the studio in euphoria, Vinnie was fired from the project. Kolyuta did not receive any explanation from the producer, which offended him greatly. He was already flexible enough to adjust his playing to the writer's requirements, but the producer hired three other musicians nonetheless: Mike Baird, Jeff Porcaro, and Ralph Humphry. A similar situation took place in the musician's career a couple more times. As time passed, Kolyuta philosophically assessed such incidents: “I have already established myself as a studio musician, but I cannot be everything at once. There are many drummers around who can do a good job.”
So, in the eighties, Kolyata becomes a real star. He mainly works at studios in Los Angeles, but still tries to take part in live concerts. Vinnie cannot limit himself to only studio work. After all, this is an unnatural musical environment. In the studio, the music starts and stops many times during the session. Only the concert situation makes it possible to play from beginning to end and once. In turn, studio work fosters a sense of rhythm, makes it possible to test many things in practice and immediately correct them after listening. That is why many believe that the studio is too "sterile". But, according to Kolyata, if you want to record, for example, a rock song, you will have to invest no less energy into the performance than at a live concert. In other words, everything you put in is then heard on the tape. You can't play "quietly" and hear a powerful sound on the final product.
Kolayuta performs with Joni Mitchell, Tom Scott, Chaka Khan, Lee Ritenour. With Johnny, Vinnie recorded two very good records: "Dog Eat Dog" and "Wild Things Run Fast". The specifics of recording drum parts on them are completely different. For "Dog Eat Dog", Kolyata samples the grooves and overdubs, while "Wild Things Run Fast" is recorded in the usual "live" way. With this music, Vinnie goes on tour. Mitchell gives musicians a fairly large degree of freedom in interpreting their music. Kolyata and guitarist Michael Landau play with VAN HALEN intensity, and Joni has to reason with the guys. In the end, Kolyata and his friends find a happy medium and a reasonable balance between ensemble playing and improvisation. Vinnie is very pleased with this work: jazz atmosphere for rock and roll money.
At the studio, Kolyata easily masters another necessary component of the craft - the click-track game. He believes that a good sense of rhythm certainly helps to master this essential attribute of modern studio practice. But not every rhythmic drummer can play with a click track and vice versa. There are musicians who have the ability to create an excellent groove that does not fit into the metronomic framework, which, however, provides the proper mood for a piece of music. But sometimes producers force musicians to record on click in a situation where, in the general opinion, this is completely unnecessary and even interferes with the overall mood of the music. And then the torment begins, overcome, in the end, by bare professionalism.
In the mid-1980s, in conversations with his friends and colleagues, Kolyata began to talk more and more that he needed to seriously revise the technical aspects of his game. To the point that he is going to take lessons. Rather, he needs a competent interlocutor who can point out shortcomings in the positioning of hands and feet. And this is a legendary musician who is worshiped by thousands of drummers all over the world! Self-critical attitude has always been a characteristic feature of Winnie. Saxophonist Donny MacCazlin ran into Kolayata while recording a record by an Ethiopian singer. At that time, Kolyuta worked with Sting and rarely recorded. Donnie was very surprised when Vinnie approached him and began to talk about the excitement that gripped him during the recording. The excitement was due to the lack of practice of studio work over the past years. Kolyata is constantly in the process of improvement. He believes that the technical side of performance largely influences the formation of the game concept and manner. Kolyata is not happy with his left hand, which I think is familiar to many drummers. In most cases, he uses an asymmetric setting. By the mid-eighties, his landing was also changing. In the Zappa ensemble and in later years, Vinnie sat very low. This gave him a feeling of comfort, but over time he came to the conclusion that such a fit does not make it possible to create maximum leverage on impact. He sits much higher, which is also due to back pain. In addition, the leg hurts after a fracture that happened at a sampling session for YAMAHA. Vinnie was forced to kick the kick while standing, as the producer was unhappy with the sound that Kolyata made in a normal playing position. Also, the sound engineer rejected the method of sound extraction by Kolyata, when the mallet remains on the plastic after the blow, and does not bounce back. Thus, Vinnie had to change two parameters of the game at once: volume and stroke. He decided to do this while standing, and, unsuccessfully hitting the barrel, holding his heel in weight, broke it while trying to return the mallet back.
Kolayuta is trying to use more symmetrical staging, although he believes that it is impossible to achieve complete symmetry in the game, since the structure of the human body is not completely symmetrical. He strives for greater technical stability, but the unique ability to play equally well the most diverse music becomes his enemy, the style itself dictates: how to hold the sticks, how to hit the drum. Vinnie tries to strike a good balance between a "technical" and "stylistic" approach to music making. But, nevertheless, he believes that he has no moral right, using his many years of experience, to simply rely on a sense of style - after all, there is still so much room for improvement.
I think that any drummer gets tired of himself from time to time and tries, one way or another, to “refresh” his performing arsenal. This is exactly what moves the reels forward. Kolyauta always tries to look at seemingly familiar things from a different angle. Getting the most out of any game situation is his motto. And if the situation is completely hopeless, and he comes home after recording with the feeling that he didn’t really play, but counted the measures more, then he takes some unfamiliar notes and practices.
As the years go by, Kolyata begins to take more care that the music he performs "feels good". In other words, he works on rhythm, swing. He comes to the conclusion that many experiments with polymeters, rarely used in actually performed music, were useful to him in that he acquired skills in handling them, and also set "forbidden zones" for himself.
His favorite drummers include Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette. Kolyata spent many hours "shooting" his idols. He studied their game in detail. For a while, he felt their invisible presence in his playing, but as time passed, Vinnie mentally "digested" this information and, undoubtedly, adapted a lot into his musical vocabulary. But it was no longer Williams and DeJohnette, but Vinnie Kolyuta.
In solo play, Vinnie does not adhere to any strict concept. Everything depends on the musical material and, to no lesser extent, on the mood of the musician. Sometimes it can be a carefully planned multipart shape. Another option is a few ideas and outlines of the shape in my head. At the same time, in the course of the game, everything can change depending on the circumstances, as well as the flight of fancy. In other words, some of what is planned may not be played. And finally, the most interesting and most difficult way is complete improvisation. The difficulty lies in the fact that the performer must abstract from his previous experience and try to imagine a blank slate in front of him. It's really hard not to think, but to try to follow your musical "instincts". But it is then that something really new, fresh, unusual can be born. It is in this case that sounds are not what the hands “know”, but the musician’s fantasy and imagination are turned on, and if the latter refuse to obey, a fiasco may well occur. In this case, each performer has a lifesaver in the form of an arsenal of tricks that can always be more or less artistically compiled.
By the beginning of the 1990s, Kolyuta came to be a mature master, recognized all over the world. He has thousands of fans, his own fan club. Many sincerely consider him the best drummer that has ever lived on earth. His studio career is developing very successfully. Producers often invite Vinnie to recordings, they are attracted by Kolayata's virtuoso "chips", which very often turn out to be completely superfluous. The musician achieves fantastic virtuosity in his playing. Sometimes even very experienced drummers are not able to understand exactly what Vinnie is playing in this or that episode. The personal life of the musician is also prosperous. He lives happily with his wife Darlene.
It would seem that nothing portends global changes in the life and career of a musician. But in 1991, guitarist Robbin Ford recommends Kolayut to work with Sting. When Robbin asked if Vinnie was interested in this work, he replied that there are two musicians in the world with whom he would like to tour - Sting (Sting) and Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel). Only a few months after this conversation, Kolayata received a call from Sting's management and was offered to come to England. In London, Sting and Kolyata listen to the Soul Cages record after dinner with lasagna, first they play Every Breath You Take and some of the POLICE repertoire. The next stage is a more modern repertoire. Sting, guitarist Dominic Miller and Kolyata immediately find a common musical language, and Vinnie gets this gig.
It is noteworthy that Peter Gabriel went to the first round with Sting. So Kolyata got the opportunity to play music with both of his idols.
Sting gives Kolyata enough freedom in the game. He does not want to see him as one of those who played with him before: Stewart Copeland, Manu Katche, Omar Hakim. He needs a musician who fits well into the band's sonic palette and is able to interpret the leader's ideas. Sting, as it were, subtly, unobtrusively manages the process, creating the sound of the group with separate laconic remarks: “I don’t want drum fills here before the chorus.” He gives the musicians the opportunity to show their vision of new material, and then, after carefully considering everything, presents his own version, which takes into account the ideas of each member of the group. At concerts, Kolyata adjusts his game depending on the situation. Some tricks of the game are not "read" by the spectator at the stadium. In a club situation, on the contrary, you can afford more "little things", and the whole ensemble has the opportunity to play more freely, taking advantage of the comfortable acoustic situation. Apparently, Kolyata is not too pleased with Sting as a partner in the rhythm section, but is forced to put up with this, understanding "who drives the car." Life teaches him to see the positive in any situation. Even in a recording session with a full symphony orchestra, when he can barely touch his drums - they "reach" into the string microphones - Vinnie tries to bring maximum energy to his playing, remembering Billy Hart (Billy Hart), he saw one day at a Stan Getz concert in Boston. Then Vinnie was amazed at the energy that Billy radiated, playing the drums extremely quietly.
Kolayuta is still working on hand positioning problems, trying to achieve ghostly perfection. He studies his movements in detail from the point of view of physics. He is interested in what kind of leverage he should use for hitting different volumes, at what angle the stick should touch the drum, etc. Having come to the conclusion that when playing in a traditional setting, the left and right hands use different muscles, Kolayuta specifically works on the development of weak muscle groups. He strictly controls his movements during classes. The position of his right hand is undergoing major changes, it is becoming more open. Winnie holds the stick with his thumb and forefinger, which at the same time form a ring, leaving the others fairly free. At the same time, he constantly thinks about how great the effort should be. He is trying to determine how high the hands should be raised when playing. Observing drummers performing complex funk rhythms based on a continuous stream of sixteenths on a hi-hat and snare drum, Kolyata notices that they, not having the opportunity and time to raise their hand high, nevertheless, “lay” the second and fourth beats tightly. Vinnie also learns this kind of drumming technique called "one-inch punch". Kolyata seeks to unify playing techniques in order to achieve greater dynamic freedom
So, in the 90s, Kolyuta toured and recorded with Sting. A Russian listener could see this wonderful drummer at Sting's concerts in the Kremlin a few years ago. A dark-haired, youthful-looking man in glasses who does not take a cigarette out of his mouth even on stage - this is Kolyuta outwardly. In rare breaks between tours, Vinnie continues his career as a studio musician. Among his new recordings is solo plastic, which was created by Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, David Sancious, Sting, John Patitucci. The whole range of the musician's passions is presented here: from hard rock to romance in the style of Mahavishnu. According to one of the producers, Kolyata showed himself to be an "absolute monster" not only in playing the drums, but also as a composer and specialist in the field of musical electronics.
In the late 90s, Kolyuta left Sting and returned to studio work. But to this day, Vinnie considers Sting's "Seven Days" one of his best recordings. This is truly one of the most beautiful drum parts. A wonderful combination of an ostinato groove with splash cymbal embellishments and tom tom builds on a two-bar hi-hat figure to mask the feel of odd 5/4 time signatures.
As before, Kolyata tries not to give up concert practice. Among the musicians with whom Vinnie collaborates is Chick Corea. One of the concerts with this jazz giant was released on video.
Kolayuta is very active, constantly participating in clinics and drum shows. He often accompanies pop stars. An interesting fact is his work with Madonna. He records only one song with her. But the difficulty of the task is that Vinnie needs to hit the bass performed on a mini muge, which is not quantized to create a "live" sound. Kolyata brilliantly copes with this as well. All over the world, fans diligently imitate his game. Not so long ago, Kolyuta took part in the recording of a record dedicated to the work of WEATHER REPORT. And more recently, together with his friend and partner Neil Stabenhaus, Vinnie recorded on Quincy Jones' latest album.
It would take too much time and space to list all the achievements and regalia of this great drummer. Therefore, I will allow myself to end this article with two statements about Kolyata by famous musicians. The first one belongs to Warren Cuccurullo, the guitarist who played with Vinnie in the Frank Zappa Ensemble:
“He was the best sight-reader, the best improviser who ever played with Zappa. When Frank soloed, he allowed Vinnie to do whatever he wanted. And he played all these things over barlines, difficult for the human ear to perceive. But Kolyata's ear is something else. Most musicians are able to perceive rhythmic durations at the level of sixteenth notes. Vinnie perceives crushing at the level of one hundred and thirty-two or something like that. And he can start playing any one of those hundred or so notes, which looks absolutely intimidating. Today Kolyuta is also known as a "groove player", and he really owns it. He always liked Jeff Porcaro, Steve Gadd (Steve Gadd). It's hard to believe, but he believes that he learned a lot from these guys. Winnie Kolyata is on another planet, on a completely different level!”
And here is what his no less eminent colleague Peter Erskine thinks about Kolyata:
"Some of the stuff he's played with Zappa is off the charts, like maybe some special effects in movies - it's best not to think about how it's done, but just sit back, relax and enjoy. He can do things on drums that no one else can.”