The Wee Trio | Capitol Diner Vol. 1

Bionic Records (2008)
By JON GARELICK  |  October 17, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars

The up-front news is that this vibes-bass-drums trio include the now-obligatory post–Bad Plus contemporary pop covers, in this case Nirvana and Sufjan Stevens. More important is their original ensemble sound, which alternates relentless speedy agitation with shapely dynamics. Even when vibraphonist James Westfall favors the vibrato that gives his instrument its name, it’s not to serve long, lyric arcs in the manner of Milt Jackson but to engage the band’s to-and-fro. They attack “About a Girl” with a cool drum ’n’ bass patter and an aggressive three-way rhythmic taffy pull that’s worlds away from Kurt’s wounded croon. Westfall softens his attack for Stevens’s lament “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid),” filling out the arrangement with gamelan-like bells. Monk’s “We See” (renamed “Wee See,” natch) has a plumy bebop lilt while retaining the band’s post-jazz oomph, Isham Jones’s ballad standard “There Is No Greater Love” (transposed to a minor key) achieves a surprising groove, and Westfall’s “Song for Harry Potter” is a dark waltz. Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis, and drummer Jared Schonig create a language flexible and distinct enough to contain multitudes.

THE WEE TRIO | Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St, Cambridge | October 17 at 7 pm | $10 | 617.395.1393 or
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