Swirling lines, frenetic melodies, bright rhythms: all those were part of the very different sound of Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio at Le Petit Chicago on December 30.
Wellman – together with drummer Mike Essoudry and bassist Joe Hincke – has melded the folk melodies and styles of the Balkans with the klezmer/free jazz style of John Zorn's Masada to create fast-paced and energetic music. The nearest comparison? In Ottawa it would be the Mash Potato Mashers – which Essoudry leads and Wellman plays in – although that is more marching band music.
Combined with the group's original compositions (with titles like “The Trickle Down Doesn't Get Very Far” and “Below the Poverty Line”), it was an intense set list that kept the crowd at the Gatineau bar primarily listening and applauding appreciatively.
Essoudry changed his drum kit for the set, replacing his regular snare and tom with higher-pitched versions, substituting a greater number of smaller cymbals for normal large ones, and adding a tambourine on top of his hi-hat – all of which created a sound quite different from his usual jazz style. Wellman on alto sax and Hincke on bass also reflected very different Balkan rhythms in their playing.
The Trio played for more than 90 minutes, and then shifted back to mainstream jazz mode for the rest of the evening. Essoudry switched to jazz kit, and they invited up a series of guitarists (including Steve Bilodeau, on holiday from his studies at the New England Conservatory). The repertoire moved to numbers like “Cherokee” and “Stella by Starlight”, providing a quieter end to the night.
The Wedding and Funeral Trio will perform at the Manx this Sunday, and two Wednesdays at the Avant-Garde Bar in January (where they debuted in December). Wellman, who sounded excited about the project, said he was planning further shows this year.
– Alayne McGregor