The Wee Trio CD Release
Joe Brent & Sara Caswell Duo
45 Bleecker St.
New York, NY, 10012
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
Watch & Listen
The Wee Trio
Roughly one year ago, guitarist Cliff Hines brought together a cadre of New Orleans’ finest musicians to perform the music of David Bowie. Among those assembled was James Westfall, vibraphonist/composer and one third of The Wee Trio. This idea of performing Bowie’s music coincided with the groundwork for the band’s third album. What followed was the recording of Ashes To Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective, a deep exploration into the eclectic icon’s music, and the band’s follow up to their first two critically acclaimed albums, Capitol Diner Vol. 1, and Capitol Diner Vol. 2 Animal Style.
After these two powerhouse albums, comprised of mostly original material (plus Nirvana’s “About a Girl”, Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Flint”), it became clear that the band was eager to lace their many Wee Trio-isms into the works of an outside composer. With Westfall being no stranger to Bowie’s music, and bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig quickly realizing the treasure trove they had found in the thin white duke’s work, the trio dove headfirst into his vast, diverse repertoire to select six songs that span Bowie’s musical universe: “Battle For Britain”, “Queen Bitch”, “The Man Who Sold The Earth”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “1984”
“We went through long list of composers, and in the end, David Bowie represented the biggest range of musical possibilities. Going from folk to rock to glam to art soundscape to electronica, he has covered more aesthetic ground than perhaps any other pop artist. Jazz being the aesthetically voracious art form that it is (and one that is given to perpetual hybridizing of styles just as Bowie was), we saw that Bowie’s music gave us that best chance to represent all the sides of our sound as a band,” explained Loomis.
For David Bowie fans and jazz fans alike, Ashes To Ashes will exceed your expectations. The Wee Trio manages to reimagine Bowie’s music while staying true to its spirit and energy. They simultaneously show their talent as jazz musicians while performing the music from the perspective of true Bowie fans. The Wee Trio also managed to showcase the versatility of Bowie’s compositions and how amazingly well they transferred into a new medium. Simply put, they breathe new life into these timeless Bowie classics.
Hailed by critics as “the ambassadors of the genre’s future,” praised for “stirring up jazz you don’t have to be old to enjoy,” and credited for delivering “lightning in a bottle,” The Wee Trio, featuring James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) and Jared Schonig (drums), exploded onto the scene in 2008 with their debut CD, Capitol Diner,
Vol. 1 (which brilliantly captured the energy, eclecticism and excellence of the band’s birthplace, Brooklyn, NY). In March, 2010 the Trio released the much-anticipated follow up recording, Capitol Diner Vol. 2 Animal Style, an album that was recorded at the famous Piety Street Studios in New Orleans (studio of choice for Dave Mathews Band, Cassandra Wilson, Harry Connick Jr., etc), but was built on the road in California during the band’s tour in support of Vol. 1.
From the “oak tree thick bass” (AAJ NY) of Dan Loomis, the “explosiveness” and “fervent audacity” (AllAboutJazz) of Jared Schonig’s drumming to the “fresh excitement” (Icon) and “ultra-chill” (The Boston Herald) of James Westfall’s vibes, the band has an instantly identifiable sound, and the group’s prodigious rapport becomes more prevalent with each recording. Throughout their recorded work The Wee Trio is vigorous and sublime, and in performance the high energy, joy, anticipation and venturesome spirit of the group envelops the audience.
While rooted in jazz The Wee Trio finds ways to break boundaries encompassing their other roots in rock and fusion. Each member is a leader in their own right, but together as The Wee Trio, Westfall, Loomis and Schonig represent one of the highly creative groups pushing jazz and improvised music in exciting and innovative new directions. They now offer their latest creative tour-de-force, Ashes To Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective.
Joe Brent & Sara Caswell Duo
Joe Brent (mandolin) and Sara Caswell (violin) are leading lights on their instruments, creating a unique and gorgeous blend of instrumental virtuosity. Brent’s indie-pop sensibility, combined with Caswell’s jazz- inspired lyricism, is at once a breathtaking display of color, melody, and rhythmic drive.
Sara, recognized as a “Rising Star” in the 2013 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll and as one of the top jazz violinists in both the 2011 and 2012 JazzTimes Readers Poll, regularly performs with her two groups, the Sara Caswell Quartet and the Caswell Sisters Quintet, as well as vocalist Roseanna Vitro (2012 Grammy nominee) and the genre-defying Rose & the Nightingale. She has toured extensively with bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding (3-time Grammy winner including “Best New Artist” in 2011), violinist Mark O’Connor’s American String Celebration, soloed numerous times in Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops, and performed and/or recorded with many artists including Regina Carter, Fred Hersch, David Krakauer, Gene Bertoncini, Charlie Byrd, Skitch Henderson, Nadje Noordhuis, and Alan Ferber. Currently on faculty at Manhattan School of Music’s Jazz Arts Division, Sara studied classical violin with the legendary Josef Gingold, has won over 100 awards and first-place prizes in the jazz and classical competition worlds, and has released two highly-acclaimed solo CDs – First Song and But Beautiful – and a CD with her sister, vocalist Rachel Caswell, entitled Alive in the Singing Air. Says O’Connor: “Most good violinists will never experience what Sara creates with her instrument. It is beautifully refined emotion that lifts the spirit and at the same time, crystallizes for me this thought: jazz violin could really have something to offer again.”
Joe Brent, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, also studied the mandolin in Italy before relocating back to New York City. He was a longtime member of pop sensation Regina Spektor’s touring ensemble, and has performed and recorded with Woody Allen, Jewel, Gary Smulyan, and Stephane Grappelli. Simultaneously, he has maintained a career in classical music, having performed as soloist with the Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, The Boston Symphony, and countless others. He released his first album, Point of Departure, in 2007, featuring music by Astor Piazzolla, J. S. Bach, and Manuel de Falla, and in 2009 released solo. EP, an album of solo mandolin arrangements of songs by rock artists such as Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips. He has recorded the complete mandolin music of David Loeb and an album of the lute music of John Dowland, and in 2009 was added to the faculty of Mannes College, where he remains the only mandolin instructor at a major American conservatory. Music journalist Don von Schrilz said, “There has probably never been a mandolin player with better technical skills, and he matches that with an enthusiasm for every imaginable role a mandolin can fulfill,” and he has been described as, “One of the truly exceptional musicians of his generation,” by David McGee of The Bluegrass Special.
Together, Joe and Sara weave a broad musical tapestry, using the delicate strands of folk music and the incendiary embers of jazz and rock. Drawing material from artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Astor Piazzolla, and Weezer, along with original compositions reflecting their diverse backgrounds, Brent and Caswell are a musical experience not to be missed.