Fabian Almazán, a Grammy-nominated pianist and composer well known for his work with Terence Blanchard and many others, joined the Wee Trio on our new album, Wee+3.
Check out his explorations on ‘Climb’, from the pen of Jared Schonig.
Our upcoming album, ‘Wee+3’ to be released Sep 30 on Bionic Records, features our collaboration with three of our favorite artists in music today. This a sneak preview of our work with Fabian Almazan, a inspirational pianist known for his work with Terence Blanchard and many others!
We hope you enjoy this song from James Westfall. It is a tribute to his new home of Nashville and his new home team. #TitanUp
THE WEE TRIO Announces The Release of Wee + 3:
James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) & Jared Schonig (drums),
Joined by Very Special Guests: Nicholas Payton, Nir Felder & Fabian Almazán
(September 30, 2016 on Bionic Records)
The Wee Trio, James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) + Jared Schonig (drums), proudly announce the September 30, 2016 release of their fifth recording, Wee + 3, recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn, NY, and featuring three musicians who are near and dear to the members of the Trio; the legendary trumpeter/composer Nicholas Payton (tracks 4, 5 & 6), guitarist/composer Nir Felder (tracks 1, 10 & 11), and pianist/composer Fabian Almazán (tracks 2, 3 & 9). Inviting guests to join this established, working group was born out of the band’s collective love of collaboration.
Wee + 3 is an album about relationships. Dan Loomis is from Middle America, Jared Schonig is from the West Coast and James Westfall is from the South. Together they have traveled to every corner of the country and the songs on this album celebrate their individual roots and their travels together. The bonds that The Wee Trio formed as a band happened very soon after they all moved to New York City and has strengthened over the years. In short, musically and personally, they are thick as thieves, and their camaraderie is fully explored and realized on the band’s previous four recordings, Capitol Diner Vol. 1 (2008), Capitol Diner Vol. 2 – Animal Style (2010), Ashes To Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective (2012) and Live at The Bistro (2013). With Wee + 3, the fans are bearing witness to the first expansion of the trio as they welcome in three critically acclaimed, world-class musicians to the fold. Each guest artist has a unique personal relationship with the individual members of the band and all of the music on this record was composed for each of these guest artists, creating a stylistic spectrum that takes the listener through three different worlds, but all within the galaxy of The Wee Trio.
The guest artists also represent three distinct narrative points in the history of the band. Dan Loomis explains further, “Nicholas Payton is the prelude to our story as a band. We say that the trio connects so well because we had listened to so many of the same records. Mr. Payton’s music was definitely an important part of all our lives. His playing, his intention as a bandleader, and his compositions were important building blocks for all of our own musical conceptions and development. Nir Felder is the present tense in the story of the band. We all met Nir very soon after we moved to the city and played with him a lot in our first years here. Our encounter with Fabian Almazán is a look to the future. Jared has known Fabian for a several years, but James and I just started playing with him for this project. Fabian plays with relentless creativity that really brings out the best side of the band. We love to play familiar material and take a lot of risks with it – push it to see what new options we can find hidden in it. With Fabian we got a chance to expand that approach to a quartet setting and bring it some new material that we wrote especially for him. We think the results are magical!” In drummer Jared Schonig’s words, this record was, “really a dream for us to make, both compositionally and musically. We had many long discussions over two years, deciding who our guests would be, and we feel that we made such great choices. To add a fourth musical voice was like taking cake and putting more frosting on it just for the fun of it.”
More about the music on WEE + 3:
“R T 3” (feat. Nir Felder) – This song is the sound of the ocean as nearly as bassist Dan Loomis can capture it. You can hear the seagull cry in the intro. “My mother grew up in California and spent a lot time exploring the Pacific coast. I was born in Redwood City but raised in the Midwest. I always loved my trips back to California and I never feel right visiting without at least one visit to the ocean,” said Loomis.
“Titan UP” (feat. Fabian Almazán) – Westfall grew up in Houston, Texas and was an avid Houston Oilers fan. In the mid 1990’s the Oilers packed their bags and relocated to Tennessee changing their name to the Titans. Since Westfall’s recent arrival to his new home in Nashville, he has re-adopted the NFL franchise that moved away from him.
“Climb” (feat Fabian Almazán) – An epic composition written by Schonig to feature both Almazán’s creativity and Loomis’ strength moving around the bass. The title represents the climb to the top that we all inevitably face daily in life.
“Sabotage” (feat. Nicholas Payton) – One of the nation’s best venues is in St. Louis, MO (Loomis’ hometown), Jazz at the Bistro. The Wee Trio played there many times and even spent a weekend recording a live album there (Live at The Bistro from 2013). Loomis explains, “The second night of the recording we went to play our first set only to discover (mid-song!!) that the microphone cables had been cut!! We never found the culprit but clearly someone set out to sabotage the band! Thus Jared had a title for his new song.”
“No Justice” (feat. Nicholas Payton) – This song is a tribute to Loomis’ hometown, St. Louis, and particularly the suburb of Ferguson. “We have all been angered and saddened by the senseless violence by police against so many black youth across our country. But these events take on another dimension when they happen close to home. In the aftermath of tragic events like these, one thing that we can do is come together to make our voices heard against a culture that allows such actions. My partner and young boys have been to many demonstrations protesting these events and my kids’ favorite chant at these demonstrations is ‘No Justice, No Peace!’” said Loomis.
“Belle Femme De Voodoo” (feat. Nicholas Payton) – “As a former resident of New Orleans, this piece was written as a homage to the city. I spent the better part of 15 years living there and the city’s influence will always be burned in my personality. One of the city’s biggest musical influences today is Nicholas Payton. I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with him about a dozen times while living there and each of those gigs was a huge learning experience that I never took for granted. Having him be a part of this record was an honor. It was only fitting that Nicholas would be featured on a song written for New Orleans. Nicholas’ style is the perfect blend of Old New Orleans and New World,” said James Westfall.
“Lola” – This is a composition by Meshell Ndegeocello that Schonig arranged for the band. Schonig says “The band originally decided against having covers on this recording, but made an exception for an exceptional artist that we all admire.”
“Sound Evidence” – The lone original trio composition comes from Schonig after he sought out to write something both rhythmically interesting yet open enough for the harmonic instruments to have complete freedom while improvising. The title comes from Schonig’s brother, who made an astute observation during a game of ping-pong with the band to prove a certain shot had hit the table!
“Redwood” (feat. Fabian Almazán) – This is a tribute to Redwood groves in Northern California. “Walking through them you can have a feeling in an endless horizontal and vertical space. This song tries capture that expansiveness,” said Loomis.
“Gibbs Street” (feat. Nir Felder) – Schonig and Loomis met at Eastman School of Music in downtown Rochester, NY. This piece by Schonig is a homage to his experience there, balancing all that life is throwing at you. “Sometimes college can seem incredibly chill and then one moment chaos can ensue; whether it be with schoolwork, gigs, relationships-I tried to encapsulate all of that in this piece,” said Schonig.
“Apparition” (feat. Nir Felder) – “Nir is one of our favorite guitarists because, like The Wee Trio, he’s not afraid to rock out. Performing the song quartet gave us the opportunity for me to personify a wraith during the melody. The composition’s simplicity gave the trio enough room to stylistically take the direction in a more organic world that is true to our influences. The composition is one big launching pad for a shredding Nir Felder solo meant to kick ass and melt faces,” said Westfall.
We have been working hard to bring you an incredible new album with some of favorite musicians on the planet! The band teamed up with Nicholas Payton, Nir Felder and Fabian Almazán to record an entirely new book of music. The album is tracked and we need your help to get it across the finish line (i.e. mastering, reproduction, art and publicity)!
Kickstarter — > http://kck.st/29ZqTQh
We are very excited to announce that the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has chosen to release their live recording of our performance! The band had an unforgettable performance that day and now you can hear the whole thing for yourself!
Also captured on this recording are few incredbile guest artists including classical vocalist Kathleen Westfall on Duke Ellington’s Creole Love Call and saxophonist Rex Gregory on Jared’s White Out.
We are just back from an incredible trip to the Crescent City for the one and only New Orleans Jazz Festival! We were thrilled to have hundreds of new fans cheering on the band and to share the stage with inspirations like Kenny Garrett and Cassandra Wilson!
Here are a few images from the Festival. Video and a live recording coming soon!
We have just come back from playing two nights at the Rochester Jazz Festival. We had a blast at these performances and wanted to thank everyone involved in the festival (including the audience) for making this a great production. If you weren’t able to be apart of the experience wee have some visual goodies below that will hopefully capture our 2 day tenure!
Jazz Fest, Day 8: Ron reviews The Wee Trio – Ron Netsky
I ended the night with The Wee Trio at the Little Theatre. The most striking thing about the group was the simpatico between the three members. While many groups come across as a collection of disparate musicians, these guys played as one. That might be because of mutual respect; all three are phenomenal players. James Westfall was the latest in a series of top vibraphone players at this year’s festival, Dan Loomis took great bass solos, and Jared Schonig saved his showcase solo till the end. All three provided excellent compositions, but the band was best on Ray Noble’s classic, “Cherokee.”
Photos by March Chamberlin
Live Interview with Derrick Lucas – Jazz 90.1
When it comes to playing well with others, the members of The Wee Trio(vibraphonist James Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig) get high marks indeed. The band’s fourth CD and first in-performance release is Live At The Bistro, the famed St. Louis venue, and it shows what talent and a cooperative attitude can accomplish when combined with plenty of rehearsal and stage time. You get a good feeling from this music from the very start as the trio slips into the venerable Ray Noble classic Cherokee. Instead of treating it like the rapid-fire exercise that it often becomes, vibraphonist Westfall teases out the melody with the active encouragement of Loomis and a particularly dynamic Schonig. When the pace does pick up, Westfall takes off on a fleet solo, and the band’s inspired “trio-logue” is in full force. Drummer Schonig takes over for an impassioned solo before Westfall takes it out with a bluesy final chorus. All three members of the band compose, and their repertoire is mostly originals. Schonig’s tricky stop-start tune Sabotage relies on the quick reflexes of the players to keep it moving. The deft and hard-swinging Westfall moves over to marimba for a slightly darker sound. Loomis takes his first solo of the date, a tasty and articulate turn in the spotlight that keeps the momentum flowing. Westfall, all alone, introduces his own White Trash Blues with long, chattering lines running up and down the scale until he sidles into the slightly old-fashioned melody. Loomis takes the first solo, and the band’s delicate interactions on this track are impressive and emblematic of the way they listen very closely to one another and respond appropriately. The blues is structured in a way that keeps the focus shifting from vibes to drums to bass to all three together, and it works as well for the living room audience as it seems to have fired up the St. Louis crowd. The Wee Trio’s third album was an investigation of the songs of David Bowie, whose Queen Bitch done live here provides fertile ground for their dynamic treatment. Other high points in this generously timed set include Loomis’ tender Bass Intro to the standardThere Is No Greater Love, the ensemble’s tight playing on the bassist’s Ranthem, and the all-out end of the night feel of the closing White Out, with a fine, in-the-pocket marimba solo by Westfall. Live At The Bistro captures a fun band in their favorite environment, playing for people on stage. Even without the visual element, the excitement largely remains intact on disc. Heartily recommended.
The Wee Trio, James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) + Jared Schonig (drums), proudly announces the September 17, 2013 release of their fourth recording, Live at The Bistro, recorded live to sold-out crowds at the award-winning venue, Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis’ Grand Center Arts District, on February 8 & 9, 2013.
Live at The Bistro is the ultimate blueprint of what The Wee Trio has been doing since their inception in Brooklyn in 2008. With three critically-acclaimed studio albums to their credit (Capitol Diner Vol. 1, and Capitol Diner Vol. 2 Animal Style and Ashes To Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective), and numerous requests from fans, the group felt it was the perfect time to take the next exciting step in the evolution of the band, a live album. With this album, the band has captured the otherworldly experience of hearing a singular, chameleon-like trio that can maneuver like a hummingbird, and in the next moment, thunder like a pack of Harleys. Drummer Jared Schonig elaborates, “prior to the shows at The Bistro we had been touring a lot, and a lot of our original recorded material had morphed into something new and something even greater. We felt that our ears were in incredible shape and the band was sounding better than ever. It definitely was the perfect time to record a live album, especially considering that the experience of hearing The Wee Trio live has always been the zenith of our existence. We had two nights coming up at Jazz At The Bistro, and we knew it would turn out to be the perfect place to record Live at The Bistro. The energy is magnificent, and it’s simply one of our favorite clubs in the world.”
Jazz at The Bistro also has a deep personal meaning for the rest of the Trio as well; “I am personally from St. Louis and grew up playing there. The Bistro is a world-class jazz club and it always brought some of the best jazz musicians around for weeklong engagements. Hearing the great voices in jazz there week after week formed my conception of jazz. It’s The Wee Trio’s second home!” (bassist Dan Loomis); “Being invited to perform there was a fulfillment of a jazz dream. While I was a student a The University of New Orleans, two of my favorite CDs were both live records from the Bistro, and one of those was coincidentally recorded by one of my teachers – Peter Martin: “Something Unexpected” was the name of the record, and it was in my CD player non-stop. The other disc was Benny Green/Russell Malone – “Jazz At The Bistro”. These records were very influential in my formative years. Hopefully our Live at The Bistro recording can have the same influence and provide the same musical inspiration as these particular recordings have done for me,” (vibraphonist James Westfall).
While The Wee Trio counts many jazz aficionados among their fanbase, new fans to the music and the band often find themselves experiencing a revelation. Bassist Dan Loomis explains, “we play every show like it’s our last, and we have so much fun PLAYING (in the musical and jovial sense) with each other. People are always coming up to us after shows and saying things like, ‘I don’t usually like jazz but I loved THAT!’. We feel that you don’t have to be a jazz fan to love hearing the interaction and witnessing the joy happening onstage. So this record is really about us wanting to ‘bottle’ the live experience of The Wee Trio and share it with our fans.”
The Wee Trio routinely flies from genre to genre, sometimes even within a single tune. They have forged all of their disparate influences into a unified, distinct entity. On Live at The Bistro we find the gents returning to their roots a bit and swinging as if their lives depended upon it! “Until now the band has never really revealed our love of Jazz with a capital J, so to speak. That is, we all grew up listening to, loving and playing swing. It has informed everything we do and we have always played it live, but it has never been featured so prominently into the band’s sound on record,” said Loomis. Live at The Bistro is therefore the most musically complete Wee Trio recording to date. From classic standards like “Cherokee” and “There Is No Greater Love”, to free playing, to rock, funk, and much more, this recording features the full musical spectrum of the band, comprised of compositions from each of their previous three recordings, and brand-new originals, “Sabotage” (Schonig), “White Trash Blues” (Westfall), “New Earth” (Westfall) and “Ranthem” (Loomis).
“As The Wee Trio, we challenge ourselves to never play a song the same way twice. In every live performance we stretch to find something new in that moment, and this act of reaching is a riveting experience for us as well as our listeners. We have been wanting to make a live record and capture this experience for a long time. Recording this album over the course of a weekend at The Jazz Bistro was a real dream. St. Louis has been a favorite destination of ours since our inception, and this engagement marked our third time back at this club. The great feeling of this place and the incredible crowd helped us find more than a few of those magic moments we strive for, and we hope you hear what we felt, too.” – The Wee Trio
With the release of Live at The Bistro, The Wee Trio offers audiences a portrait of the band in full flight, and a glimpse of the auspicious future that is in store for this modernistic trio. Available September 17 on Bionic Records.