Bridging the Gap is the name of a violin (Peter Wilson) and double-bass (Aaron Clay) duo whose repertoire exists in the gap between music's disparate worlds. There's nothing new about an oddball instrumental combination playing eclectic music, of course. Duke Ellington, who disliked all categorization, said, "If it sounds good, that's all you need." Wilson and Clay did sound good Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, and for traditional reasons: superior arrangements and uncommon musicianship.
Wilson and Clay began their association in 1993 as members of the Marine Band. Clay provides rich harmonic flooring, but what sets him apart is elegant bowing. His melodic lines have a cellolike glow and flexibility that sounded particularly fine in Gershwin arrangements but always curled comfortably around Wilson's pristine melodic lines. Wilson began with a deftly ornamented baroque Allegro by the obscure Italian composer Giseffo Fiocco. The duo moved adroitly to an Ellington set, an Appalachian set, music from "Schindler's List" (John Williams) and television-cop-show funk (featuring Wilson's uncanny imitation of a siren). Vieuxtemps' throwaway "Souvenir d'Amerique" ("Yankee Doodle" variations) elicited showering virtuosity from Wilson, and a melange of Glenn Miller tunes was by turns nostalgic and funny.
As with all Millennium Stage presentations, the performance was free.