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Paul Wertico’s Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance: Impressions of a City

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If you remember drummer Paul Wertico from his 1983-2001 tenure in the Pat Metheny Group, then his Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance’s new Impressions of a City will qualify as something completely and noisily different. Wertico complements his regular trio partners (guitarist John Moulder, multi-instrumentalist Brian Peters) with Israeli imports Dani Rabin (guitar) and Danny Markovitch (saxophone) to create music that alternates between swinging and startling.

“We didn’t even talk about the music beforehand,” Wertico says of the improvised sessions in the liner notes. Yet anyone who listens will be talking about it afterward. Many of the tracks, like the opening soundscapes “A Light Too Soon” and “What Should I Wear Today,” clock in at less than three minutes. The subsequent “Bumper to Bumper” features Markovitch’s wailing soprano amid a metallic wall of Moulder and Rabin’s guitars, which makes pieces like “Beauty Wherever You Can Find It”-with Wertico’s mallet work and a tranquil melody-that much more of a contrast. “I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That” and “The Inside Track” offer a cacophony of difficult-to-distinguish sounds, with Moulder’s fretted and fretless guitars, Rabin’s guitars and loops, and Peters’ bass, keyboards and violin.

Definitely for the adventurous more than the squeamish, Impressions of a City is practically guaranteed to alternately please and annoy. And perhaps even more jarring than some of the tunes is how Wertico solidified his quintet’s lineup. The drummer had already hired Moulder and Peters to play his daughter’s bat mitzvah, and added Rabin and Markovitch to form a quartet to play background music and traditional songs. Chances are no one in attendance saw these impressions coming.

Originally Published