Ellen Weller & Joshua White at Palomar College

There is both serious and joyful chemistry between these two masters.

Woodwind multi-instrumental virtuoso Ellen Weller surfaced with a rare public performance on March 14, in a sublime duo with pianist Joshua White for an afternoon concert at Palomar College.

Choosing an all-improvised format, Weller began with slinky clarinet weaving around the peek-a-boo pianistics of White, fostering a theme that was almost Mancini-esque before both musicians ripped down the veil of propriety and launched to sinuous cacophony--hoarse multiphonics balancing whispered pad-popping over plucked interior strings. Seagull cries and jangling clusters revved into cycles of kinetic energy--then Weller took up the flute, spitting, sighing and bending notes into wide vibrato.

White opened the next piece with jarring repetitions--sounding like an alliance of Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor while Weller leapt into the unknown on soprano saxophone--soaring, chirping and twisting tangential dialogs around hammered explosions. Suddenly--the dynamics dialed way down, and White continued with quiet, rhapsodic ruminations while Weller's alto flute hovered above with ghostly overtones and aching trills.

Weller's jaw-harp and rattles signaled another quiet interlude as the pianist colored the open-spaces with a tinkling soliloquy before clarinet was the weapon of choice. Lacing dark curlicues of open-ended themes, Weller's story became knotty when White hammered multiple distortions of timbre from paper strung through the piano strings as each player embarked on a discordant exchange of formalistic gestures--sort of like Bach through the prism of John Cage.

Over in a heartbeat, it seemed.


So nice to see you this far north, Robert!

despite the distance, i would have been there if this had taken place at a reasonable hour. been way too long since i last heard ellen.

your reviews are the next best thing to being there.

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