The Wee Trio: Ashes To Ashes - A David Bowie Intraspective (2012)
Vibraphonist James Westfall participated with several New Orleans-based musicians to cover the music of pop icon David Bowie and took the concept further by using this premise for The Wee Trio's third album. The band projects youthful vigor along the lines of The Bad Plus and Medeski, Martin & Wood; firmly rooted in the jazz vernacular, the trio adheres to Bowie's famous melodies and song forms, all enacted with jazzy variations and plentiful doses of improvisation.
"1984" is a classic Bowie song, produced in 1974 on Diamond Dogs (Virgin, 1974), where Orwellian perspectives were fused into the pop-rock realm. Here, Westfall launches the piece with a circular motif and proceeds to sing the lyrics via his deft mallet work while maintaining the familiar hook. The trio explores various avenues, including a funk-rock groove with a regimented pace, yet extracts the pop overtones throughout.
At times succinct yet expansive in scope, the musicians' effectively use space amid a fluent attack, reinventing the core theme during the bridge. The trio alters the rhythmic flow, featuring drummer Jared Schonig's poetic, but hard-hitting solo, brimming with brisk hi-hat hits and polyrhythmic tom patterns, returning with a vengeance for the finale. Indeed, a hugely entertaining album encompassing an uncanny mix of Bowie's pop sensibilities with upbeat progressive jazz stylizations and adroitly executed dialogues.
Personnel: Dan Loomis: bass; James Westfall: vibraphone; Jared Schonig: drums.