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.
As you may or may not know, the 4th Wee Trio CD is on the verge of hitting our physical and digital stores on September 17th. If you can’t make it to one our cd release shows on our upcoming Tour, then please pick up your copy at itunes or cdbaby.
We all know how hungry the Wee Trio fans can be. To quench ya’lls thirst James Westfall has decided to throw a free EP down your way of one of his own side projects. You can download it at http://thecolt45s.bandcamp.com/
The Wee Trio is busy getting a brand new album ready for you. This February we recorded two unforgettable nights of music in St. Louis. This September we will release it on the album, Live at The Bistro. Take a sneak peak at the incredible cover art from our friend, Charles Michelet!
|It has been a while since The Wee Trio has been in touch with you, our dear fans. But we have been busy on and behind the scenes and there is a lot coming up. Here’s the scoop!
WEST COAST TOUR
The Trio ventures onto foreign soil for the first time this winter. We are excited to play at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on February 3rd. Stay tuned for additional dates in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.
I saw some of my earliest jazz concerts (this is Dan, wee bassist extraordinaire) at Jazz at The Bistro, the great club in my hometown of St. Louis. I got to see Ray Brown for the first time there along with a whole lot of other jazz greats. So it means a lot to me to return to the Bistro for our third time this February and record a live album! We have been workshopping and rehearsing new music for the record here in LA…. and things are sounding really exciting!
WEE WEE ONES
For you baby fans out there… we’ve got a new (and cute!) one for you! Already 7 months old, Finn Dean Davidson Loomis has yet to officially announced in our newsletters. He was born March 28th, 2012 (a day before my birthday — nice brithday present!). Jared has already started him on drum lessons 🙂
Hope to see you at a show soon!
The Wee Trio
P.S. And of course…..if you haven’t heard our new record,
Ashes to Ashes: A David Bowie INTRAsepctive, yet then run don’t walk to your nearest Itunes retailer (we think you’ll find one pretty nearby) and experience it for yourself today. Or get the full art version at CDbaby.
The summer is finally drawing to a close and The Wee Trio is looking forward to some exciting concerts in the coming ‘school year’. Keep reading for news on our current concerts around Chicago and New York, our upcoming tour to the West Coast and our new project for percussion ensembleWe had an incredible return Friday nighto to the legendary Green Mill in Chicago. Yesterday we had the great pleasure to play overlooking gorgeous Winnebago on a perfect early fall day at the Fox River Jazz Fest (we were excited to open there for Donny McCaslin with his strong, strong quartet).
New York, we are coming back to you this Tuesday. The Wee Trio has resolved to spend more time in hometown of two-thirds of its members, New York. We are kicking it off with a return Cornelia Street Cafe this Tuesday night (September 4th) at 8:30pm for two sets. This a beautiful room to hear the band so please come join us for our return home.
This winter, The Wee Trio finally makes it’s return to the West Coast. Our exploits along the California highways were the inspiration for our second album, Capitol Diner Vol. 2, Animal Style and this will be our first return since that inaugural trip! Stay tuned for more details… but you can see some of our tour dates on our calendar below.
Recently, the band had the pleasure of being Artists-in-Residence at the Butler Summer Jazz Camp this July. One highlight of being
part of this week for us was having the chance to premier a new series of works that the group composed for Butler’s renowned percussion studio. Videos from this performances are coming … also look out for some performances at universities around the country (hopefully near you, of course).
Much love to all of you, our fans. We hope to see you at a show soon!
The Wee Trio
Hello Wee Trio Fans!
We have finally decided to jump on the wordpress bandwagon. As you can tell our site will be going through a major renovation so we apologize in advanced for the inconvenience. Until then, sit back, relax, and listen to some Wee Trio.