Ellen Weller

Ellen Weller: Saxophone

Genre: Acoustic, Jazz, Lounge, Noise | Xprmntl, Rock, World

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The Weller Family Band was founded by pianist Bob Weller and saxophonist Ellen Weller, later joined by their children, including bassist Danny Weller, whose 2006 album Tree of Thorns features his parents, and Charlie, a drummer who graduated in 2011 from the venerable Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Woodwind multi-instrumentalist Ellen Weller originally left San Diego for Los Angeles in the late '70s to pursue a career in jazz saxophone, but she feels the “macho” element in the jazz community didn’t exactly welcome female musicians. “Once I answered an ad for a saxophone player, but I was told that chicks caused too many problems.”

“It wasn’t all bad — I studied with [San Diego reed veteran] Joe Marillo when I was 16, and that was wonderful. But even after I got the gig with Maiden Voyage, my phone continued to not ring. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough, but by the time we moved to New York, I was mostly focusing on [classical] composition.”

Weller went on to serve as Assistant Professor of World Music at Palomar College, where she has taught ethnomusicology and conducted the orchestra. She is well versed in many styles of music, from Mariachi to Klezmer, classical to mainstream jazz. Among the instruments she plays are saxophone, clarinet, flutes, ocarinas, bamboo flutes, shofar, pennywhistles, and the fife.

She has also been a member of the local experimental new music co-op known as the Trummerfora Collective. Her debut album Spirits, Little Dreams & Improvisations was released in 2004, on the small Circumvention Music label.

In 2011, she toured Japan with former San Diego drummer/percussionist /phonographer and fellow Trummerfloran Marcos Fernandes, who plays a combination of found-sounds and ethnic instruments like bowls and pots and a Yoruba talking-drum, as well as sampling and processing sounds in real time. He also has a library of pre-recorded sounds, like children at a playground and turkey gobbling, which he layers into the improvisational landscape.

The Weller Family band played several dates in London in late 2018.


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