When: Fri., Nov. 4, 9 p.m. and Sat., Nov. 5, 8 p.m. 2016
In recent years the Wee Trio have applied the concision and melodic impact of pop music to small-group jazz. The Bad Plus have had great success doing something similar—though their music deploys bolder, more interesting structural imperatives—but Wee Trio are certainly the only group doing so that’s built around vibraphone (played by James Westfall). On the new Wee + 3 (Bionic) they take a step back toward their jazz roots, engaging in collaborations with pianist Fabian Almazán, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and guitarist Nir Felder, each of whom plays on three tracks apiece, conveying an easy rapport with the trio. But as illustrated by the two tracks without guests—one a tightly coiled spin on Meshell Ndegeocello’s moody “Lola,” the other a lean, stuttering original by drummer Jared Schonig called “Sound Evidence”—Wee Trio are better without the help. Here their personality is flattened, making them sound like just another modern-jazz group. Thankfully, they’re on their own this weekend.