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San Diego's Ellen Weller took time out from the remarkable Trummerflora Collective to create and record Spirits, Little Dreams and Improvisations, a compelling suite based on medieval Jewish possession myths extrapolated to consider the channeling of musical flow by improvising musicians. Her research team includes Vinny Golia and George Lewis, plus Trummerflora's Marcos Fernandes, Nathan Hubbard, and Lisle Ellis. The seventeen tracks feature different configurations ranging from duos to septets.
The first of six trios featuring Fernandes, Hubbard, and Weller starts the program. Using percussion and wind to hearken to humankind's earliest music, Weller plays evocative clarinet with variegated percussive support. On "Dybbuk Lewis plays vocal trombone with Golia's searching clarinet. Weller swoops on flute as Ellis freely plucks. Bob Weller's piano comes apart under his right hand.
Playing a small flute, Weller returns to the trio on "Elemental 1-3 amid glittering percussion. "The Rebbe's Premonition draws on Weller's klezmer background by unfolding rife with harmonic minors as the reedist engages in a two-clarinet duet with Robert Zelickman, while Bertram Turetzky bows deep drones and slashes on bass. Fernandes lays down whispering electronics with found sound and Weller echo effects her flute on "Grandma Rose's Dreml.
"Elemental 1-2 features all percussion, while "Inner Struggle gives Weller a wild soprano ride in duet with Turetzky. Golia races on clarinet while Lewis and Weller orbit on "Council of the Elders. "Peering in From the Other Side utilizes unusual electronics and acoustics for an interdimensional effect. "Celebration, Transfiguration, and Release into the Ether joyously returns to earth with fiery flute dance by Weller. Golia strides in on tenor to play with Ellis and assorted percussion. Weller returns on soprano to close it out with the group improv.
Even with its ambitious philosophical blueprint Spirits, Little Dreams, and Improvisations provides a pleasurable, if too rare glimpse of some of Southern California's best improvising talent.
Track Listing: Elemental 1-1; Dybbuk; Dialogic #2; Unfinished Business; Elemental 1-3; the Rebbes
Premonition; Grandma Roses Dreml; Elemental 3-1; Possession/Corruption of the Vulnerable;
Elemental 1-2; Inner Struggle; Council of the Elders; Elemental 2-2; Dialogic #1; Peering in from the
other side; Celebration, Transfiguration, and Release into the Ether; Elemental 1-5
Personnel: Ellen Weller (flute, soprano sax, Bb clarinet, piccolo, fife, windrum, misc. jangles); Marcos Fernandes (percussion, field recordings, talking drum, electronics); Nathan Hubbard (percussion, electronics,
congas, berimbau, tuning pipe, whistling); Vinny Golia (sopranino and tenor sax, Bb clarinet, contrabass
clarinet); George Lewis (trombone); Charlie Weller (drum kit); Bob Weller (piano, drum kit); Bertram
Turetzky, Scott Walton (contrabass); Lisle Ellis (electro-acoustic bass); Robert Zelickman (Bb clarinet)