Paul Wertico – drums; Danny Markovitch – electric soprano/tenor saxophones; John Moulder – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, fretless guitar; Brian Peters – electric bass, duduk, shvi, soundscapes, synthesizer, violin, piano; Dani Rabin – electric guitar, looping, prepared guitar, slides.
Recorded 6/17 and 6/18/2009.
Produced by Paul Wertico. Recorded by Nick Eipers. Mixed by Brian Peters.
One of Downbeat Magazine's "Best CDs of 2010"
4 ½ Stars! (4=“Excellent”, 5=“Masterpiece” ) – Downbeat Magazine
“… Wertico’s hour-plus-long journeys through what one might assume is a sonic, sometimes lyrical, sometimes ambient and/or noise, portrait of Chicago… Both impressionistic and (especially) expressionistic, what makes the music work is not only that Wertico is not content to just ‘play it straight’ as a drummer but that his skills as a conceptualist/leader may be even greater, helping to create a compelling, and not altogether scattershot series of musical surprises. A heads-up for all budding drummers (check out Wertico’s inventive pause of a solo on ‘My Side of the Story’) who would like to hear and create music that goes beyond just keeping time.”
- John Ephland, Downbeat Magazine
“… a wildly unpredictable journey into one man’s apparently inexhaustible sonic imagination. Weird electronic effects, straight-ahead jazz, scorching blues, rock-tinged guitar wails, ambient sounds of the city – it’s all there on the CD… the CD unfolds with a grandeur and over-arching shape that would lead you to conclude vast amount of planning had gone into it… [That the album was completely improvised] helps explain the vitality and spontaneity of the recording but not its high degree of instrumental detail or its sense of cascading climaxes and resolutions. In effect, “Impressions of a City” captures the frenetic, too-many-things-happening-at-once sense of an urban metropolis, expressed in the language of jazz and its many off-shoots… a rare combination of jazz tradition and anything-goes experimentation. The miracle is that the two fuse so easily in a recording that spans 18 tracks but unfolds as if it’s one, rip-roaring epic.”
- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
“One of the most experimental acoustic drummers around, the former Pat Metheny backer offers 18 tenuously linked tracks of bleating sax, knotty guitar, boffo synths, and sundry rhythmic statements… Multiple music voices are accompanied by freer-than-free rhythms that nonetheless feel deliberate and coolly measured. Sometimes beautiful, other times tense or just plain spooky, ‘Impressions of a City’ ought to go some way toward correcting the dubious reputation of avant-garde music.”
- Drum! Magazine
“Replete with crash, clatter and soundscapes of all stripes, Paul Wertico’s newly formed Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance takes a sonically engrossed look at the modern city via a day-in-the-life motif… the record meshes Eastern and Western tones in exploring the anxiety-enriched landscape we call modern life… Wertico ends the record the way Bob Dylan is prone to do after serving up heaps of distress, with a shrug of the shoulders and a joke: “Good Night and Good Luck.” This is musical narrative at its finest. A fanfare for the common (and mechanistically exploited) 21st century man and woman.”
- Matt Marshall, JazzInsideNY Magazine
“Every Wertico album possesses, to some extent, free improvisation, making the completely spontaneous ‘Impressions of a City’ an inevitable progression… an hour-long suite that’s truly only experienced as a singular entity… Far from an easy listen, ‘Impressions of a City’ remains a compelling one. Closing in on nearly a decade since his departure from Pat Metheny Group, it’s time to stop thinking about Wertico in that context, and recognize him as a stylistically unbound, improvisationally intrepid player, composer and – as important as either on ‘Impressions of a City’ – conceptualist.”
-John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com
“Between the jungly atmosphere of “What Should I Wear Today” and the quirky shredding within “Word Salad”, Wertico and friends include enough elements to please both picky jazz purists and rock fans alike, mixing hardcore distortion on the axe with synths, saxes, and the ambient soundscape. So pretty standard stuff, as far as insane avant-garde recording sessions with legendary fusion-jazz drummers go.”
- A.V.Club, The Onion
“… a soundtrack waiting for a film… This is the soundtrack I suspect Hieronymus Bosch would have written had he been a modern composer watching the news… Despite the sometimes nightmarish and chaotic nature, the level of musicianship never ceases to attain a high level. Moulder and Rabin handle the guitars with exuberance, Markovitch soars on saxes, while Wertico himself plays at times like a dervish possessed by his own personal demons looking to break free… Peters provides some chewy bass, synths, violin and an assortment of unusual instruments and sounds, while Rabin’s loops and sounds also add layers of texture to the overall atmosphere. Haunting and memorable, ‘Impressions of a City’ is an engaging musical experiment and one that is highly unique.”
- Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
“... music that alternates between swinging and startling... anyone who listens will be talking about it afterward... Definitely for the adventurous more than the squeamish...”
- Bill Meredith, Jazz Times Magazine
“Resulting from a two day session fostered in improvisation and the lack of pre-conceived notions, this might be best termed an Avant Fusion/World Jazz record. Program-wise, the smoky Middle-Eastern hues of 'Beauty Wherever You Can Find It' rub shoulders with all out burners like 'The Boss Needs To See You', the odd swing of 'Closing the Deal', furious romps like 'The Inside Track', the downright scary sounds of 'Drive at Five' and the concluding 'Good Night and Good Luck'. While a grab bag of sounds and contexts, this is riveting music that is deliciously odd and frankly, captivating.”
- Jay Collins, Cadence Magazine
“...the disc is a sound collage... It's clearly pieced together music made by five outstanding musicians with the ability to see the whole picture and take that idea to its conclusion... 'Impressions of a City' is a monster disc, but it's also an enigmatic one. It's the kind of disc that will have no casual fans, and will likely suffer few single listens. Those that aren't into Wertico's brand of ''weird' probably won't spend any time with it in the first place, and those that are will be enthralled and rewarded by multiple listens.”
- Paul Abella, Chicago Jazz Magazine
“Those who only know Wertico from his long stint with Pat Metheny might be surprised or even alarmed by this music... no-holds-barred, electric-acoustic free-jazz... the variety of sounds and moods achieved stands up in its own right (though by no means an easy listening experience) and, as an example of one of the many school of musical thought coming out of the Windy City, this deserves to be heard.”
- Brian Priestley, Jazzwise UK Magazine
“4 ½ Stars! ’Impressions of a City’ is an incredibly sharp release… there is a lot more hidden there than just what an initial listen may offer… Both players from Marbin make a very distinctive contribution… It’s like having a band within a band… The harmony of the players is what makes this very orchestral… ‘Impressions of a City’ is a combination of beauty and disturbance. Musically the album is reflective of life itself in a soundtrack sort of way. It’s a record with more than one heart.”
- Mark Kadzielawa, 69FacesOfRock.com
“a free-improv date connecting Middle Eastern sonorities with the avant, loud/soft dynamics of Chicago's underground music scene... The assaultive drumming of 'The Inside Track' is a welcome far cry from Wertico's Metheny days, and it allows the listener to revel in the beauty of the drummer's controlled chaos.”
- Ilya Stemkovsky, Modern Drummer Magazine
“... a white knuckler sonic ride... a soundtrack for an urban day in the city, with the band creating musical atmospheres and attitudes for each part of the day. Tunes like 'Late Again' and '15 Minutes for Lunch' capture the cacophonic angst of modern man.”
- George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com
“This is in-your-face, hyperactive, L-O-U-D and headphone-friendly music at many points... The more meditative and drone-based segments are equally effective. Wertico's approach will strongly appeal to fans of Bill Bruford's Earthworks.”
- Bill Barton, No Room For Squares
“The music on this album is like nothing you’ve heard recently… these five musicians had never worked as one unit before stepping into the studio, where they improvised everything you hear on this disc… Wertico and company have constructed a panoramic palette of tonal colors and sonic designs, a broad wash of landscape imagery and topographical detail and deep-fathom waves (and even a little smoke-and-mirrors). His instincts remain intact: this quintet of collision, patched together on a whim, achieves the unity of purpose that Wertico imagined – even without preparation or rehearsal. As they’ve done on the trio’s previous recordings, Moulder and Peters manage to give themselves over to the music without subsuming their own unique personae; meanwhile, the new guys add a stream of fresh ideas, renewing the well from which this music springs. Holding it all in his remarkably strong hands is Wertico himself, one of the most energetic, inventive, and masterful drummers in any genre, on one of the most impressively spontaneous albums you’ll find on this planet – or any other.”
- Neil Tesser (from the album notes)
Paul Wertico is internationally known as "one of the most versatile and musical drummers in music today". He first gained world recognition as a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 until 2001, and during that time he won seven Grammy Awards, received several gold records, and won awards such as "Fusion Drummer of the Year". In reviews, his playing has been compared to that of an "Impressionist painter", while Paul has also been described as "an inspired madman", "a restless innovator", "a true legend of jazz drums", "a master of drumming insanity", and "a genius of the sticks". In 2004, Wertico was honored as a "Chicagoan of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune.
Paul is also extremely active in the field of education and he is Assistant Professor of Jazz and Head of Jazz Studies at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. His new educational DVD “Drum Philosophy” has garnered great reviews such as “A fresh approach to the drums from the perspective of pure musicality”; and “Wertico makes it clear he’s one of rhythm’s deepest voyagers.”
Paul's numerous CDs as a leader have received great critical acclaim such as: "This album is like the soundtrack to the world's coolest vacation"; "Jazz-rock in the truest sense"; "A brilliant release - Wertico shows a thrilling disregard for stylistic boundaries…one of the most intelligent, creative and alluring percussion recordings of the past decade. Wertico reaffirms his position among the most restlessly inventive drummers working today"; "Wertico and his players have done something wonderful and rare: they've actually created something not only different, but also truly new"; and "His recent records are stunning examples of the electronic, rhythmic and intellectual directions jazz could be going."