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Music & Words / Nov 15, 2015

Last Sunday's Open Mic Classical

at the UU Church in Brewster

Featured Music & Words

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice." -T.S. Elliot

"What's another word for thesaurus?" -Steven Wright

Inspired by the creativity witnessed at our past two Open Mics (ethereal ukelele trio! captivating presentation about Fanny Mendelssohn et al!) I decided to change it up and, whether in a moment of matrimonial nepotism or as apology for making him do all the cooking lately, decided to choose my husband Eli Woods as the featured performer while requesting he do something unusual with words.

After hearing some wonderful classical guitar playing by Rich Elliot-Grunes, my clarinet accompanied (via some improv and Debussy and Malcolm Arnold quotes) my husband's performance-oriented spoken word piece titled "Mall of Truth," a paean with some rapid-fire absurdist philosophy that includes "a cauldron of simmering hysteria somewhere in the suburban New Jersey area" and a "sales-associate insight guide named Susan-ali-Jon-Beham-a-ram."

In addition, Eli performed some piano improv largely using a 20th century classical lexicon of musical gestures based on the audience-suggested words of "Golden" and "Treasure." And since his favorite improviser J.S. Bach incorporated musical palindromes in (among other places) his crab canons*, so too did Eli. (Perhaps improvising in a church played a part, as some scriptures state that the first words by earth's first man were a palindrome: MADAM I'M ADAM; as were his last before death by cholesterol-induced cardiac event: GO HANG A SALAMI I'M A LASAGNA HOG.)

The audience-suggested words "Golden" and "Treasure" were brought quixotically to second life when Kelly Depin, narrating ad lib on the mic, joined Eli's improvised piano playing. Kelly is a local actor and theatre improviser from Barnstable, whose extraordinary spontaneous skills gave new meaning to the term "off-the-cuff-tone-poems-involving-leprechauns-and-bus-stops-set-to-Debussy-using-the-whole-tone-scale-to-debate-with-Liszt-implications-in-Indonesian-currency-fluctuations."

It was a delight to experience how Kelly's artfully improvised words and quirky juxtaposition choices helped us listen to music in new ways.

*Bach described his canonic works that involved musical inversions and retrogrades and retrograde inversions as "crab canons" because of the ambi-directional nature of a crab's walk.

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