When you think of something as small, medium or large, the immediate thought process describes something to wear, eat or the relative size of an object or person. Seldom would there be thoughts of the title of a new jazz CD; however, anything is possible in the mystical world of music these days. In this particular instance, a musical trio with an unusual name has put together an album with an unusual title as well, with surprisingly promising results. Enter the WPG Trio, a Washington DC-based group that has an exceptional history probing the musical landscape in and around the greater DC area. They have now embarked on an adventuresome debut effort entitled 'Small, Medium, Large' for the Severn Record Label.
With music that explores the idioms of funk, jazz and R&B, the WPG Trio lays down an infectious array of funk that makes you wanna holler and throw up both your hands. In addition, they can also mellow out with melodies that can slow the pace of an otherwise busy existence. Although the group has a tendency to lean more towards the R&B side of music, they also exhibit some serious jazz moments as well. Having worked as a well-tuned operating unit since 1988, these three guys have thrown-down some impressive tracks on their first effort as a trio. With the vitality and energy of a dynamo, their music is very contagious, as they wail on such tunes as Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" and "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover." They also do well with such standards as "Misty" and "Everything Must Change as they move to the slow side. In hindsight, I have to say the overall recording is filled with a little bit of something for any listener looking for variety in their musical selections.
As I examined the infrastructure of the WPG Trio, I found drummer "Blues" Webb, keyboardist Benjie Porecki and bassist Gary Grainger to be a matched set of seasoned professionals. They bring together a combination of vocalese, jazz, funk, rhythmic expression and melodic transition in a manner that is often appealing and easy to follow. Their music flows very well from one track to the next, and they even make what they do look easy. If I had one criticism to make, it would be a tendency leaning towards predictable and unimaginative. But overall, this first trip out is likeable. These three guys have paid their dues; as such, this minor observation is excusable for the most part. Their experiences with such notables as Gladys Knight, Billy Preston, Ken Navarro, John Scofield, Nancy Wilson and Pieces of a Dream are just a few of the many artists they have recorded and toured with. That fact in itself more than makes up for any shortcomings they may have exhibited on this debut release. This dynamic scope of influences has prepared them for 'Small, Medium, Large.' With this freshman effort, the music scene is pleasntly introduced to a trio of musicians who are willing to stretch the limits of contemporary jazz and R&B. I can't wait to see what comes next from the WPG Trio.