With a fusion of jazz, rock and soulful blues, Paul Wertico features blazing guitars atop propulsive rhythms for his second trio album. The Chicago lineup works well together with empathy, while performing original compositions from each of them. The drummer-led unit drives through a variety of familiar rhythms, including classical ostinatos, ride cymbal swings, and a New Orleans shuffle.
John Moulder’s Duke Ellington-like swing feature on "Liftoff" settles in with a lyrical message that crosses genres easily. Similarly, Eric Hochberg’s melodic bass on "The Visit" provides a universal message; this one surrounded by mood-altering, eerie effects.
The trio’s innovative combination of sounds normally found in hard rock arenas makes a bold statement about the crossroads facing modern jazz. However, the session falters in places, allowing the formula to become tiring. Such is the case on "Long Journey’s End," where rock-styled guitars, bass and drums carry repetition beyond the usual limit. Wertico, an articulate drummer, solos too often throughout the program. And yet it’s the drummer who pulls it all together with subtle changes in rhythm and drive.
If a rhythm-maker can grab you like Ravel’s "Bolero" would – even while the repetition drones on – then he’s held your interest long enough for you to tie together the sweeter parts.
Clybourn Strut; The Underground; African Sunset; The Visit; Liftoff; Long Journey's End; Taliaville; Justa Little Tuna; Testament
Paul Wertico: drums, percussion; John Moulder: guitar; Eric Hochberg: basses, guitars, trumpet