Of all musical instruments, the clarinets come closest to the sound of the
human voice. You might, therefore, expect a concert by two expert clarinetists
to come close to the sound of real conversation. You’d be right.
Exactly that happened, in fact, in a splendidly communicative encounter by two
of this region’s most valued progressive musicians, David Ocker and Vinnie
Golia. Ocker, a member of the chamber group called Xtet {cq} is usually
thought of as part of the classical world; Golia usually busies himself with
The music at their joint concert Saturday afternoon, part of the Los Angeles
Festival offshoot known as the “Open Festival,” given in the charming garden
in back of the Joanne Warfield Gallery in West Hollywood, hovered around the
invisible line between the two worlds: fluent and improvisatory in the jazz
sense, splendidly complex, full of bright contrapuntal exchange, to appease
the classicists.
Between them (and with the added assistance in one piece of visiting New York
clarinetist Jane Ira Bloom), the players managed something like a dozen
different sizes of clarinet, along with a few flutes plus a Chinese
harmonica-type gadget called the Shang. The afternoon was, in fact, a little
like a family reunion of the wind family. The huge contrabass clarinet, with
enough plumbing to equip a small town, hobnobbed with tiny bamboo flutes; the
piccolo shrieked its greeting to the sopranino saxophone.
More important, however, was the sense that the players were well in tune with
each other.There was a sense of solid music-making, even in passages that
exploited the more arcane possibilities of the instruments: the squawk of the
overblown clarinet, for one. The music, some of it improvised, floated
through the garden like bright butterflies. Most of the pieces had no names;
they needed none. There ought to be more concerts as informal, as full of
inventiveness, with the sense of togetherness, the pure pleasure of music-
making, that this one had.

This entry was posted in Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.