By Brian Zimmerman | Published February 2017
For its fifth album as a unit, The Wee Trio—James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) and Jared Schonig (drums)—has chosen to double down. Literally. The group has expanded twofold for this outing, recruiting colleagues Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Nir Felder (guitar) and Fabian Almazan (piano) to appear as guest soloists on individual tracks. The result is a spirited, intellectually rigorous 11-piece program that reflects the diversity of the individuals involved while pointing to a shared aesthetic of lush grooves and winsome improvising.
The most engaging tracks on this disc work in dual mediums, mixing broad, watercolor ensemble play with pinpoint soloing and strong individual statements. “Rt3” begins in a mist of ambient sound, but then begins to crystallize around Felder’s rigorous harmonic structures. Similarly, “Climb,” featuring Almazan, rides in on a wave of chiming chords and crisp drums, but just as quickly dissolves into torrents of thrashing bass and pounding toms. But The Wee Trio is also capable of digging in deep, and that tenacious thirst for groove—along with its magnanimity—is among its greatest strengths.
Wee+3: Rt3; Titan Up; Climb; Sabotage; No Justice; Belle Femme De Voodoo; Lola; Sound Evidence; Redwood; Gibbs Street; Apparition. (62:31)
Personnel: James Westfall, vibes; Dan Loomis, bass; Jared Schonig, drums; Nir Felder, guitar (1, 6, 10, 11); Fabian Almazan, piano (2, 3, 9); Nicholas Payton, trumpet (4, 5, 6).