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Paul Wertico Trio - Live In Warsaw!
"Anything that Paul Wertico puts out himself is going to be held up to the work he's done with Pat Metheny. That's the price he pays for interpreting the guitarist's music so well for the last 15 years. In the driver's seat on this DAT-captured concert date with a couple of excellent Chicago-area musical cohorts, the trapster shows his mettle as a leader, writer and instigator. The drummer is frequently called on with Metheny to create a texture but not a diversion, a wash of cymbals rather than a breathtaking tom-tom roll. With the freedom of this tight, supportive trio, Wertico is loosened up to explore all angles of the drum kit, hands open to any whim. He keeps up the high musical standard - in fact, for himself the bar is a little higher now. Live In Warsaw! is a combination of the type of adventurous world-wise rhythmic jousting Wertico did with Kurt Elling on Bob Belden's Shades Of Blue (McCoy Tyner's "Tanganyika Dance") and the daring improvisational power heard on his duet with Gregg Bendian, BANG! This concert is also very much about his talented cohorts, world-class players each. They dig into "Cowboys & Africans" with a sense of adventure but also maturity in the groove. Versatile guitarist John Moulder brings to mind a ripping John Goodsall and Brand X one minute, then a more dreamy Jan Akkermann vibe, and John Scofield at his dirtiest the next. Bassist Eric Hochberg is formidable as well, a rhythmic and melodic partner in the group bowing, plucking, never letting the level falter. As they ride out "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" in a blaze of glory, this real "playing" band serves notice, and Wertico raises the stakes with an awesome flurry." Four and a half stars!
"Take three of Chicago's most gifted jazz improvisers, place them in front of an enthusiastic European audience, and sparks are likely to fly. But there's more than just visceral excitement to this recording, which features Paul Wertico's restlessly creative drum work, John Moulder's soaring guitar solos and Eric Hochberg's deeply resonant bass lines. Unafraid to shift from free-form improv to dance-beat riffs, from transparent ensemble textures to thick walls of sound, Wertico's trio gleefully defies restrictions of genre and musical language. Yet there's a unity of purpose at work here, with three instrumentalists speaking to each other like the kindred spirits - and veteran collaborators - they are. Though the extended solo that opens the recording probably will be of interest primarily to percussion aficionados, the rest of the disc will appeal to anyone who values musical adventurousness of the most intelligent kind."
"Paul Wertico is best known for his drumming in the Pat Metheny Group but few realize his expertise as jazz trio drummer. This session which features Paul's dynamic jazz playing along with guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg was recorded live in Warsaw in 1994 during an eleven date concert tour for the Chicagoland based trio. The music captured is fresh and intense featuring exciting original compositions with extended and masterful improvisations. The entire trio is showcased in most of the selections which makes listening to this gem an extreme delight. Guitarist Moulder has the chops of any name-brand player on the scene and also plays a variety of multi-colored chordal timbres. Bassist Hochberg adds a steady anchor while contributing many impressive and interesting complex solos. Drummer Wertico textures the music with his trademark cymbal sticking patterns but is truly brilliant in his polyrhythmic fills with the toms and snare drum while laying down a solid groove for the group. There is a lot of music on this disc which is wonderfully layered and most importantly, enjoyable and alive!"
"Poll-winning drummer Paul Wertico, part of the Pat Metheny Group since 1983, launches this album with a six minute solo ("Toms for Talia") that establishes his polyrhythmic artistry before he's joined by bassist Eric Hochberg and guitarist John Moulder, two equally proficient fellow Chicagoans with notable performance credits. Recorded during a 1994 two-week tour of Germany and Poland, this eight-tune Warsaw concert features an array of inspired improvisations that range from hard-edged jazz-rock fusion to supple, melodic motifs underpinned with Wertico's cymbal work. Wertico rhythms and shadings allow this band to communicate cohesively, yet he has the finesse to step aside and allow his colleagues space for some fine solos. Moulder (a Roman Catholic priest!) generates some fiery, hard-edged, blues fused licks on "Time for the Blues," while Hochberg shines on an arco solo on "Cowboys & Africans" and a sublime, unaccompanied pizzicato solo on the ethereal, "Little e." All capable of diverse expressions, these three masters make first-class, modern music together."
All About Jazz
"If your knowledge of Paul Wertico is limited to his work with the Pat Metheny Group, you might not realize the extent of this man's ability. Live In Warsaw! shows another side to a drummer who's better known for his finesse than his quick hands. Recorded one night during a two-week tour of Germany and Poland in October 1994, Live In Warsaw! also features the gifted John Moulder on guitar and Eric Hochberg on bass. The three Chicagoans display great chemistry as they tackle unbound improvisations, fiery fusion, deep grooves, impressionistic intervals, and even a blues tune. At the core of each cut is some incredibly polyrhythmic drumming by Wertico. Live In Warsaw! contains eight tracks, seven of which are originals. Six of these numbers exceed six minutes in length, but only one gets tedious: the opener, "Toms For Talia," an interesting but drawn-out drum solo. Moulder and Hochberg join Wertico on "Cowboys and Africans," an intense groover that begins with Hochberg's bowed bass and segues into some fiery rhythms and an especially hot solo from Moulder. All three players share the spotlight on a crackling nine-minute interpretation of "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise." Hochberg delivers impressive solos on the diaphanous "Little e" and the free-sounding "8x12." The bassist forges a tight partnership with Wertico from beginning to end. Incredibly, guitar-man Moulder also happens to be a Roman Catholic priest. Prior to this, the only song I'd ever heard a priest play on guitar was "Kumbyah." Father Moulder's masterful string-bending invites comparisons to another heavenly guitarist, John Scofield, particularly on "Time For The Blues." The padre also gets ethereal on a couple of tracks, including the aptly named "Magical Space." The live-to-DAT sound captures every crisp nuance of Wertico's percussive performance. In fact, there are many stretches here where you'd swear you're hearing two drummers. If you dig adventurous guitar-based jazz or exceptional jazz drumming, it doesn't get much better than The Paul Wertico Trio's Live In Warsaw!"
Swing Journal (Japan)
University Reporter Chicago
"When Paul Wertico is not rhythmically driving the Pat Metheny Band or teaching at Northwestern University in Evanston, he likes to jam with fellow jazz-meisters guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg. The newly released Live In Warsaw! is a wonderful snapshot of the trio, captured in October, 1994, while on tour in Europe. From the opening track, "Toms For Talia," and throughout the duration of the album you know that you're listening to a drummer-fronted jazz band. And what a drummer. Wertico, a masterful technician, possesses the ability to play over, behind and right on the beat, and his improvisational skills leave most drummers with their chins on the floor. Moulder and Hochberg are also masters of their respective instruments, both of them able to keep the music interesting without resorting to bombast. In addition, all members of this musical triangle contribute compositions to the set list. Highlights include Moulder's "Time For The Blues," on which he jams Buddy Guy-style, and Hochberg's "Little 'e'." The trio sounds best when playing together and they more than adequately prove their versatility in a number of different playing styles. The solos are fine, but the album holds the most musical interest when drums, bass and guitar go full throttle, gracefully tearing through odd time signatures and leaving the audience wanting more. From what can be heard of the Warsaw audience, this latter point is quite evident! The Chicago area definitely does not hear enough from the Paul Wertico Trio. It's great to experience them captured live on record, but it would be a greater privilege to be able to see them for themselves."