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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

A Wee Bit of Bowie

Jan 13, 2012

Rock Star/actor David Bowie turned 65 earlier this week. One of the great musical chameleons of our time – perhaps only Miles Davis tried more musical styles and guises during his career – he’s unfortunately something of a recluse these days, producing little new work. He’s left a body of recorded projects that dominate my iPod – I go nowhere without Ziggy Stardust, Station to Station, Low and ‘Heroes’.

Jazz musicians haven’t spent much time on the Thin White Duke’s catalogue. Other than The Bad Plus’ cover of “Life on Mars?” and New York based Pachora’s version of “The Man Who Sold the World”, I don’t find much interest on the part of the jazz community.

But this may well change. Robert Glasper will include a cover of Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione” on his CD to be released next month. Boston musician Lea DeLaria intends to release an entire album of Bowie covers in the next year. For immediate enjoyment, check out The Wee Trio’s new release Ashes to Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective.

Based out of Brooklyn, NY, the Trio – James Westfall (vibes), Dan Loomis (bass) and Jared Schonig (drums) – has wisely avoided Bowie’s hit records in favor of more musically interesting selections. As a result, the band is free to experiment and reinvent the tunes. “Ashes to Ashes” alternates between ethereal vibes and a drum heavy sound, while “1984” is supported by the throbbing bass, leaving the vibes room to play over the familiar chords and tune. “The Man Who Sold the World” may be the most melodic song on the CD, turning it into a chamber jazz piece that features truly wonderful interplay between Westfall’s vibes and Loomis’ bass. 

More than a novelty CD, this is an enjoyable piece of work from a talented up and coming trio.