There have been string quartets, saxophone quartets, even a clarinet quintet. But so far as is historically documented, there is only one bass clarinet quartet: Edmund Welles. Created and led by East Bay transplant Cornelius Boots, the band has garnered raves from its few public performances, with critics pointing to the surprising range not only of notes, but of emotional depth plumbed by four people playing the same basso instruments. This fab foursome is all about serious fun. Serious in that the band knows it’s carrying the banner for such bass clarinet masters as Eric Dolphy and David Murray. And fun as in mixing original works with heavy metal tunes from Black Sabbath to Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom,” where the original song’s four electric basses are replaced by bass clarinets. Edmund Welles is going more above-ground on Saturday at Epic Arts Studio (1923 Ashby Ave., Berkeley) with a concert that offers the world premiere of its commissioned four-movement work, Agrippa’s 3 Books, and the release of its debut CD of the same name. Agrippa’s 3 Books is the result of the group receiving Chamber Music America’s prestigious New Works: Creation and Presentation grant. The band will also take the work to New York City (John Zorn’s new club, The Stone), and to San Francisco’s Old First Church on September 18. The composition was inspired by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s 1531 writing, De Occulta Philosophia, and, in Edmund Welles’ fashion, it mixes occult philosophy and heavy metal music.
Originally just an idea by Boots, who made recordings by overdubbing his own bass clarinet four times — with early performances featuring guest clarinet masters from Beth Custer to Ben Goldberg — Edmund Welles’ lineup has solidified over the past year. Boots is joined by Sheldon Brown (of Club Foot Orchestra, Klezmorim, and Omar Sosa), Scott Hill (from Fragments and Aldoush), and Aaron Novik (of Telepathy and Kipple). Donation for the all-ages, 8:30 p.m. concert is $5-$10 at the door. 510-644-2204. EdmundWelles.com or EpicArts.org — Larry Kelp
Lo, the storied City of Planned Progress — aka Pleasanton — presents its own poet laureate, Cynthia Bryant, who hosts an open mic and other delights at Century House, 2401 Santa Rita Rd.; for details, call 925-398-8846 (Thu., 1 p.m.). … Learn by eating as, amid free refreshments, cooking teacher Linda Carucci launches her long-titled book, Cooking School Secrets for Real-World Cooks: Tips, Techniques, Shortcuts, Sources, Hints, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, Plus 100 Sure-Fire Recipes to Make You a Better Cook, at A Great Good Place for Books (Thu., 7 p.m.). … Saddle up to discuss Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling with Bay Books Pleasanton‘s Pulitzer Prize Winners Club, which meets the first Thursday of every other month (Thu., 7 p.m.). … Bards and beats meet at Vallejo’s Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe (818 Marin St.), where percussion by Shannon Lacy augments local poets Martha and Tony Mims, followed by an open mic (Thu., 8 p.m.). … Shoot the crrrl, grrrl, with Mary Osbourne, Kia Afcari, Elisabeth Pepin, Bev Sanders, Liane Louie, and Janine Daley as they talk about life on the waves and Sister Surfer: A Woman’s Guide to Bliss and Courage at Cody’s Telegraph (Fri., 7:30 p.m). … Guys who do it with guys but call themselves straight — it’s a hot topic on the sexual-orientation front. Hash it out with the Oakland Library‘s Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Book Club as it discusses Keith Boykin’s Beyond the Down Low at Piedmont Branch (Mon., 6:30 p.m.). … Snag 20 percent off your tab at Berkeley’s Priya Indian Cuisine if you stay put postprandially for Poetry Express. This week’s headliner is Paula Farkas, followed by an open mic (Mon., 7 p.m.). … Squeeze in among the best-sellers and collectibles at Berkeley’s teensy Book Zoo, where every Tuesday night is Social Night (Tue., 8 p.m.). — Anneli Rufus
Doing Time, Doing Vipassana — not the most graceful movie title in the world, but the 1997 India/Israel production is a neat little documentary news feature about the ancient meditation technique called Vipassana, in particular its use to calm and help refocus inmates in a New Delhi prison. The idea of meditation for violent offenders was hatched by one Kiran Bedi (above), the Indian inspector general, who reckoned some down-time reflection — a ten-day meditation course — was just the thing for rehabilitating convicts. And she was right. The hour-long film, directed by the team of Eilona Ariel and Ayelet Menahemi, plays three nights beginning tonight (Wednesday) at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, www.lapena.org. Doing Time, Doing Vipassana is being distributed by a new company, Immediate Pictures, the brainchild of Elliot Lavine, former booker at the Roxie Cinema and Movies by the Bay, and his wife, Tracey Bigalow. — Kelly Vance
From boys of summer to men of fall
Baseball is in full swing in August, when the Boys of Summer attempt to become the Men of Fall. The potential of spring training, the momentum-building months of April, May, and June, and the July midseason point (symbolized by the All-Star game) have all fallen by the wayside. By now, pennant races have started to shore up, contenders have begun to distance themselves from also-rans, and the opportunity to be a hero or goat happens on a nightly basis, as games are no longer meaningless for those teams with playoff dreams. The A’s game on Tuesday vs. the Los Angeles Angels — the opening game of a three-game home series, with another skirmish in Anaheim looming at the end of the month — could very well determine if our small-market overachievers have what it takes to make it deep into October. This could be our green-and-gold squad’s best chance to gain ground — and a psychological edge — in the AL West, and your cheers will help them do it. 7:05 p.m. at McAfee Coliseum. Athletics.mlb.com — Eric K. Arnold