“I like music that is just a little rawer, that’s in your face,” says drummer Paul Wertico, best known for his role in the Pat Metheny Group—not the first group that comes to mind when we’re talking gritty. But Wertico has long explored the grimier side of sound through his solo projects, like Spontaneous Composition and Earwax Control.
Wertico’s latest, Don’t Be Scared Anymore (Premonition), is a down-and-dirty trio romp through nine moody rock- and blues-flavored improvisations. In fact, a track like the rhythmically chugging and guitar-buzz layered “Long Journey’s End” is more suggestive of German psychedelic bands like Can or Einstürzende Neubauten than any jazz-guitar trio. “It’s my dream record,” admits Wertico. “I was allowed the opportunity to use a new studio owned by a friend who invited me to come in and record some things. There was no label at the time. There was no outside pressure.”
More than half of the album was recorded in, for a jazz record, nontraditional fashion: to a click track and then lay-ered with overdubs. “There are times when there are four or five guitar and bass tracks on there. I was going for the sound in my head.” Guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg helped Wertico achieve the noise bouncing
around his dome.
Wertico’s sound is one that includes equipment experimentation and sonic “flaws”—a welcome departure from the uptight perfection that strips so many jazz albums of a distinctive tonal personality. “I’ve got all these old analog effects, ring modulators, delays. I’ve always loved analog sound because it has that out of control thing happening… At one point John is soloing and I’m lying on the floor twisting knobs,” Wertico enthusiastically explains.
Were Don’t Be Scared Anymore played during a blindfold test there is little possibility that the CD would be identified as a drummer-led date since Wertico stays in the background mostly and divides evenly the compositional duties with Moulder and Hochberg. “I like to run a ship in a democratic way. No one’s going to listen to all drum solos—even I wouldn’t listen to that!”