Wee Trio | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Wee Trio Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Feb. 3, 9 p.m. 2012

The Wee Trio have already attracted lots of comparisons to the Bad Plus thanks to their freewheeling, high-energy style and occasional rock cover, and their third and latest release will hardly put a stop to them: all six tracks on Ashes to Ashes: A David Bowie Intraspective (Bionic) are by the Thin White Duke, and some even come from late-period duds like Heathen and Earthling. Vibist James Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis, and drummer Jared Schonig give the songs rigorous, novel jazz arrangements, retaining structures and grooves from rock and electronic music, and as with the Bad Plus their adaptations clearly spring from a sincere love for the source material. The opener, "Battle for Britain," might pass for an instrumental pop song if it weren't for the crazy virtuosity in Schonig's furious breakbeats, and the Wee Trio's version of "Queen Bitch" generates tension and interest with an unpredictable flow—a kind of hot-potato game in which the members take center stage by turns, constantly shifting the intensity and density and taking the occasional succinct solo. The familiarity of the melodies makes it easy to hear how inventively the group transforms the songs, but I prefer to hear that creativity on the trio's original tunes—they dominate its first two albums, and I'd recommend starting your listening there. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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