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Paul Wertico Trio - Don't Be Scared Anymore


Voted one of the Best 10 albums released in 2000! - Chicago Tribune

One of's Jazz Fusion Essentials!

Modern Drummer

Paul Wertico's reputation as a light-handed cymbal-oriented player is in serious jeopardy with his latest trio release. Not in jeopardy, however, is his reputation for taste and chops. He just combines all that with fierce focused power. The Trio's first release, Live In Warsaw!, featured the same personnel, yet was more in a Scofield vein. Don't Be Scared Anymore is more inventive, raw, and musically complete. Highlights: Wertico building a very nice solo over the vamp of "African Sunset." "The Underground," a slow 6/8 that gets large. And "Testament," which is nearly as "out" as The Sign Of Four sessions Paul did with Gregg Bendian, Derek Bailey, and Pat Metheny in '97. This is the heaviest and most musical playing yet on record from Wertico. - Rating: 9 (out of possible 10)

Chicago Tribune

In the best recording of his career by far, Chicago drummer-bandleader Paul Wertico crosses stylistic barriers that may frighten jazz purists. Combining the energy of the best rock'n'roll with the smarts of top-notch jazz improvisation, Wertico and his all-star trio have cut a record that sums up several facets of the drummer's free-ranging career. If Wertico's strutting rhythms and guitarist John Moulder's incendiary lines on "Clybourn Strut" underscore the leader's populist tendencies, the strange chord progressions and outrageously bent notes of "The Underground" point to the trio's fearlessness in exploring unconventional tuning and unorthodox ensemble sound. With this tour de force, Wertico, Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg open up new directions for themselves — and for jazz musicians bold enough to build upon the achievements of Don't Be Scared Anymore.

Drum Talk

You've seen him on the cover of Modern Drummer; you've heard him play drums with the Pat Metheny Group. Now, Paul Wertico realizes his own musical vision with Don't Be Scared Anymore, the latest release from The Paul Wertico Trio. Paul's album is difficult to categorize. There are hints of fusion, avant-garde jazz, and progressive rock; however, this album is more than just the sum of its influences. Don't Be Scared Anymore conveys raw sounds and raw emotions to the listener. The musicians, though highly skilled, are less concerned with displaying their technical abilities than creating feelings of intensity and energy in the listener. Don't get the wrong impression: there is lots of impressive drumming on this album. For example, the song "African Sunset" contains some blazing tom rolls. "The Visit" shows Paul's mastery of the "straight swing" rhythm on the ride cymbal. In "Taliaville" Paul executes some amazing patterns between the snare and the ride. Besides Paul's superlative drumming, Don't Be Scared Anymore also features the off-the-wall guitar playing of John Moulder and the impressive bass playing of Eric Hochberg. These three musicians clearly had the same intention in releasing this album: to create the kind of music they wanted to play and hear, with no rules or inhibitions. Undoubtedly, many people will purchase this album to hear Paul's drumming, and they will not be disappointed. But anybody with taste for the bold and the unusual will also enjoy Don't Be Scared Anymore.

After two decades as drummer in the Pat Metheny Group and recording with everyone from blues artist Ellen McIlwaine to avant guitarist Derek Bailey there is apparently no musical style that scares Paul Wertico. Genre mixing is not unusual in the postmodern age, but it remains hard to find artists who blend musical styles in a manner both seamless and personal. Thus, Wertico's trio is a rare find in its ability to range comfortably from the down-home blues of "The Underground" to the Afro-groove of "The Visit" to the King Crimson industrial noise of "Testament"--and without sounding like a different band on each cut. Credit guitarist John Moulder's synthesis of sophisticated jazz licks and raw rock tone for helping to keep the project on course. Though a studio recording, Don't Be Scared Anymore has a live energy that equals or surpasses the group's first outing, Live in Warsaw! Scary good.


Longtime Pat Metheny drummer Paul Wertico takes a solo step out on to the high wire, bringing along guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg for the ride. The result is nine tracks of pure high-octane fusion, showcasing Wertico's compositional prowess alongside his incomparable drum style.

All About Jazz

Following the untimely demise of the Igmod label, the Paul Wertico Trio made an enlivening shift to Premonition to produce their first studio disc. The trio format seems to offer Wertico a better chance to really stretch out and shine than the Pat Metheny Group or his own prior groups permitted. He selected near-perfect foils in guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg, who share both the leader's quirky eclecticism and his understanding of the diverse elements that constitute good fusion. The first track kicks off the affair in high gear, sounding like a herd of rhinos have commandeered a New Orleans second line. Next Moulder serves up musky late-night blues. Hochberg is thankfully up-front in the mix instead of playing, uh, second fiddle as is a bassist's usual fate. His swooping runs lead the safari behind drum surges on track 3. His overdubbed arco and pizzicato basses drive the next track, which is flavored by rainstick and cymbal shimmers. #6, "Long Journey's End", sounds more like an invigorated beginning as it bounds hell-bent for leather. #8 reminds me, of all things, of some of the folky little compositions proffered by the Art Ensemble of Chicago in their middle ECM period. This album is like the soundtrack to the world's coolest vacation; let it take you along for the ride.

Paul Wertico, longtime drummer for the Pat Metheny Group, mostly eschews jazz, rock and traditional fusion on the first studio recording from his own eclectic, experimental-leaning outfit with wizardly guitarist John Moulder and talented multi-instrumentalist Eric Hochberg. This Chicago-based band, first heard on 1997's Live In Warsaw!, comes off as a brainy power trio at the disc's start, with the manic "Clybourn Strut" followed by the snaking 6/4 rhythms and spooky incantations of "The Underground" and Wertico's expressive rolls and splashes on the 5/4 "African Sunset." Much of the remainder is impressionistic, and downright cinematic. Hochberg's bowed bass builds to an impressive climax over the repetitive riff of "The Visit," while Moulder's effects-drenched guitar twists through a series of nervy lines on "Liftoff." The noisy six-string and percussion textures of "Long Journey's End" might be the sound of a chugging train (reflecting the booklet art); and Moulder rips out flamenco-ish lines over the sturm und drang of the rhythm section on "Taliaville." "Justa Little Tuna," a waltz said to be inspired by Ornette Coleman, is a pretty piece built on chiming guitars and Hochberg's lovely muted trumpet declarations. But the trio blows it out on "Testament," an extended finale that draws from Monk-ish bebop, funk, old-style art rock and free jazz. It's an ambitious capper to a disc with plenty of appeal for fans of edgy instrumental music from the post-fusion division. Those partial to Metheny's smoother efforts, though, may find it far too adventurous. Their loss.


Long-term, award-winning Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico makes good things come in threes with John Moulder (guitars) and Eric Hochberg (basses, guitar, trumpet). Unafraid of jazz-rock or fusion settings, or even bottom-heavy beats, the trio lets loose with Don't Be Scared Anymore, which Wertico describes as a "dream record … my drumming in its purest form." He gets to do what he's always wanted, and that enthusiasm spills out all over original tracks like "Clybourn Strut," with its ultra-confident Chicago swank, as well as the herky-jerky guitar of "Liftoff". The three can ratchet it down a bit in the 16-bar blues of "The Underground" or "Justa Little Tuna" -- the latter an Ornette Coleman-inspired waltz. The closer, "Testament," clocks in at nearly 11 minutes of busy free-form jam dissonance, chunky bebop breaks, and plenty of opportunities for all the players to show their proudly cultivated chops. If you ever harbored doubts about jazz's ability to be overt and powerful, Wertico and Co. will assuage any fears.

CMJ New Music Report

Drummer Paul Wertico may be best known for his work with Pat Metheny in the '80s, but he continued to produce and play regularly in the '90s and beyond. This bad-ass trio is definitely a bright spot in his busy schedule. Alongside guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg, Wertico eschews the usual wanky delivery associated with electric fusion in favor of driving, near-manic playing. There are also overdubs and other studio trickery afoot on Don't Be Scared Anymore that work surprisingly well, and moreover, the overall production is neither saccharine nor gratuitously modernized. Though Wertico plays out of his head throughout the album, the cool guitar work of Moulder sounds like a cross between Robert Fripp and Frank Zappa. Buckle up!

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Another slightly off-center effort with a percussive surge can be found on Don't Be Scared Anymore, a new Premonition CD by drummer Paul Wertico and his trio, which includes guitarist John Moulder and Eric Hochberg, who plays bass, guitar and trumpet. Their sound has a guitar-driven core that probably has more in common with fusion than jazz. At times, they recall the early Mahavishnu Orchestra.

All Music Guide

Don't Be Scared Anymore is a CD to listen to only if you like your jazz laced with lots of rock. And for that matter, the only rockers that this fusion/avant-garde jazz effort will attract are rockers who have some appreciation of the language of jazz. Don't Be Scared Anymore is jazz-rock in the truest sense, it has the muscle, volume, and aggression of rock, but it also has the intricacy, spontaneity, complexity, and imagination of jazz. Forming a trio with guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg, drummer Paul Wertico doesn't cater to those who are fearful of jazz considerations any more than he caters to myopic bop snobs who labor under the delusion that all jazz has to have a 1950s beat. No one would mistake probing pieces like "African Sunset" and "Liftoff" for Art Blakey recordings of 1955, but their jazz appeal cannot be denied -- those who think that Wertico is simply a rock instrumentalist need to get with the program and come into the 21st Century. Wertico, who is very much a part of jazz's electric avant-garde, takes an inside/outside approach on this CD, parts of the album are very dissonant and underscore his appreciation of Ornette Coleman's innovations. But he doesn't go for complete atonality and puts a great deal of thought into melody and composition. If you have a high opinion of both fusion and jazz's electric avant-garde, Don't Be Scared Anymore is highly recommended.

Paul Wertico has served as drummer in the Pat Metheny Group for 17 years, and when backing someone with as strong a musical personality as Metheny, it's not always easy to establish your own identity. This is Wertico's second album as bandleader in a trio featuring bassist Hochberg and guitarist John Moulder, who is also a priest. That Wertico hasn't intentionally tried to distance himself from the guitar is in part a testament to Moulder's mutable playing, which bears little resemblance to Metheny's and doesn't try to. This set of nine originals busies itself with sampling rhythms and voicings, leaping into the fray with the bluesy New Orleans groove of "Clybourn Strut," which features snarling nonstop soloing from Moulder, and finishing with the elephantine funk/free-jazz hybrid of "Testament." From slow blues to modal vamps to angular experimentation, the trio works together with free-flowing ease, Moulder changing tones, textures and tensions as elastically as Wertico changes rhythms. - Rating: 8 (out of possible 10)

Jazz Institute of Chicago

A versatile drummer, Paul Wertico summarizes his various musical experiences on Don't Be Scared Anymore, a trio date with guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg. Despite the variety of styles and the fact that compositional duties are shared, Mr. Wertico must be credited for making a coherent record with a unique sound. Paying tribute to the power trios of the late sixties-early seventies was surely on Mr. Wertico's mind, but he manages to avoid the pitfalls of the genre: no purposeless solo or battle of the egos. Mr. Wertico aims at mixing rock and jazz, but the music contained here does not fall under the fusion category as evidenced by the very first track, "Clybourn Strut". This uplifting track offers a surprising combination that really works: John Moulder's blazing guitar is backed by a full-throttle New Orleans beat topped with Brazilian percussion. On "Long Journey's End", the most intense piece, Paul Wertico uses his drum kit to create a relentless wall of sound on which John Moulder soars. The triptych closer "Testament" is an exposé of two themes followed by a blowout session where each musician gets to take a solo. Mr. Wertico likes to describe the content of his new CD as "in-your-face" music, but you will get some respite with the bluesy "Underground" or "Justa Little Tuna", a humorous lullaby which features Eric Hochberg on trumpet. Don't Be Scared Anymore is a very enjoyable effort that will keep your feet moving and tickle your brain.

Pause Record

Speaking of jazz, drummer Paul Wertico has been found behind the skins of the Pat Metheny Group for something like 18 years now. He continues to hold that job, but along the way has released a few critically acclaimed solo records as well. This latest continues that tradition. Wertico is not content to stay completely within the confines of jazz however and this disc features sounds, especially because of the speed and loud, distorted electric guitars, that could more easily be classified jam rock than anything else. Wertico has said his favorite records are those that are relentless in their energy, and this disc is proof of that inclination; each song on this all instrumental collection seems more intense, more high energy than the one before, even though the stylistic range is extremely wide.

The American Reporter

The late jazz drummer Art Blakey used to tell young new members of his musical fold, The Jazz Messengers, words to the effect: "Step out there onto that stage and play with an attitude; nobody's interested in your lack of self-confidence." To my knowledge, no member of The Paul Wertico Trio -- Wertico on drums and percussion, John Moulder on guitars, and Eric Hochberg on bass, guitar and trumpet -- ever joined the ranks of The Messengers, but they have taken that "play with an attitude" advice and run with it hard on this recording. The title of the disc -- Don't Be Scared Anymore -- is musical advice from drummer Wertico's daughter, words that parallel Mr. Blakey's. The trio listened to her, apparently, and went into the studio and went at it for all they were worth, playing with the vitality of a teenaged hard rock garage band, with about ten times the musical skills. In fact, that's what the Trio's sound conjures: a high-energy rock band that stayed together over the years, kept at the craft and evolved along the lines of jazz, and got really, really good at what they do. The collection of tunes -- all of them band-member penned -- is solid from start to finish, opening with Hochberg's "Clybourn Strut," with its slashing guitar riffs, driving bass lines and a tight Chico Hamilton-like metallic back beat. There are some fine Hendrix-style moments on Moulder's "African Sunset," and the churning, chopping accoustic "Taliaville" -- and a bonus: Wertico's "Justa Little Tuna" that features (and leaves one wanting more of) Hochberg's muted trumpet work. The closer is the hard and tight-grooved "Testament." A power listen; a jazz trio with an attitude!

It's not too often that a local jazz release leaps out of the mailbox and thrashes the listener's head against the wall. Then again, this isn't exactly a jazz album. Nor is drummer Paul Wertico -- who collected seven Grammy awards as drummer for the Pat Metheny Group -- just another local musician. Don't Be Scared Anymore brims with creativity from the get-go. Its rough edges may sound downright frightening to fainthearted mainstream listeners, but for those who are bored with the same old jazz (even the same old fusion and free jazz), this is a welcome change of pace. This is Wertico's second CD with this trio, which teams him with guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg. The compositions are entirely original, with each trio member contributing songs. "Clybourn Strut," a Hochberg composition named after one of the city's finest diagonal avenues, begins the disc with a smash. Wertico lays down an insistent groove consisting of a clave beat on drums and a complementary pattern on cowbell. Moulder takes the lead on a distorted guitar line that leads into an intriguing chord change. By all appearances, the whole performance is right out of the "jam band" craze that's swept the nation in recent years. But there's a feeling underlying it -- a dark, disturbing, manic force -- that carries more weight than the average hippie dance groove. Moulder's "The Underground" is slow and dreamy, like a bad trip gone good, and the form is unusual: It's a 16-bar blues in 6/4 with a pleasant melody on top. Moulder's style bears a resemblance to that of John Scofield, especially in the way he lays way back behind the beat. Throughout the album, he employs a variety of guitar effects, churning out unique timbres that give the CD much of its characteristic edge. "The Visit," a Wertico composition, is a highlight of the disc, which is surprising since it's a bass feature. Too often an upright bass solo is something listeners merely put up with -- we appreciate the artistry but fight off yawns -- but in this case, Hochberg improvises lines that are truly inviting. The number begins with a free-form intro played on bowed bass and some sort of wood chimes (a rain stick, maybe?) that seems to shimmer back and forth from one channel to the other. It moves quickly into another wonderful groove with a simple, repetitive guitar line that seems plugged into some kind of mandolin-like effect. Then there's the fine bass solo by Hochberg -- actually two bass solos laid on top of each other, one bowed, one fingered. Combining the two bass styles, the guitar effects and the percussion, the trio comes up with a style that is inventive, but not self-indulgent. In his PR notes, Wertico is quoted as saying: "The records that I like, regardless of the style, have a real, almost hitting-the-ceiling kind of energy, as though it's continuously peaking. It's as if the record's going to melt if it got any hotter. That is what I hope we achieved with this record, an uplifting, energetic, almost exhausting (in a good way) musical experience." I couldn't have put it better myself.

Just when you think you have jazz figured out, something fresh emerges. The new album by percussionist Paul Wertico, former sideman with guitarist Pat Metheny, is a case in point: a wide-ranging, tension-filled program that skips from hyper-charged jazz rock to open-ended improv. Wertico starts off rocking hard in "Clybourn Street", then shifts into blues mode for a probing "The Underground." By contrast, "African Sunset" possesses a Middle Eastern allure. The most evocative songs are the hypnotic "Testament" and the burner "Liftoff". Guitarist John Moulder, who has a tone similar to John Scofield, and bassist/guitarist/trumpeter Eric Hochberg provide excellent support throughout. For example, "Justa Little Tuna" finds Hochberg playing trumpet with restrained lyricism but enough vigor to keep it interesting.

Phoenix New Times

"The Paul Wertico Trio is led by the Pat Metheny Group's drummer, but the guitarist on Wertico's Don't Be Scared Anymore (Premonition Records) -- who happens to be a Catholic priest -- joins the trapsman in cranking out buzz-saw jazz not as friendly as Metheny's but just as alluring."


Listeners only familiar with drummer Paul Wertico from his stints with fellow Chicagoan vocalist Kurt Elling or his tasteful rustling behind fabled word jazz hepster Ken Nordine may be caught off guard by this session. Though Wertico has long traveled as a key component of guitar hero Pat Metheny's multi-faceted orbits, here the drummer chases a more fixed vibe. An effort, he states, to use the studio to its maximum effect, Don't Be Scared Anymore is an unabashed revel in the power-trio slash-and-burn jazz-rock of 1970s . Guitarist John Moulder evokes the overheated style of Wired-era Jeff Beck - as on the brooding, bluesy "The Underground" - and some of the loopish intensity of art-rock heroes like Robert Fripp, while Wertico and bassist Eric Hochberg keep the rhythms bustling. It's a more interesting record when Moulder isn't pushing the VU meter deep into the red, notably because Wertico's skillful touch can be more strongly felt. There's a supple stretch of the CD-closing "Testament" that accomplishes this balance beautifully, but as group concepts go, this one aims more stridently towards a form of enlightened jamming that fans of the latter-day Allman Brothers Band would appreciate.

Bass Frontiers

Paul Wertico is best known as the drummer for the Pat Metheny Group but this trio including guitarist John Moulder and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Eric Hochberg has been together creating great music since 1994. Don't Be Scared Anymore represents the drummers vision of a dream record not just jazz or rock but the sound and vibe of what Paul looks for in music. Each musician contributed equally to the finished product which is experimental, mature, and creative. "Clybourn Strut" has an almost Peter Gunn feel that Wertico describes as "A Second City, Second Line Groove". "Justa Little Tuna" parades along with a Miles sounding trumpet part while Paul's drumming pushes and pulls the time ever so slightly, then the tonal instruments follow as things slide in and out of place with calculated freakiness. The instrumental experimentation reminds me a bit of Medeski, Martin and Wood with the harmony focus on guitar as opposed to organ. Paul and the guys are very much in control of their instruments as they create music that pushes the limits and creates an "outside" vibe.


On Don't Be Scared Anymore, longtime Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico celebrates his band's second release and inaugural outing for Premonition Records. In the liners, the drummer communicates a positive outlook regarding the intentions of this new recording, which ultimately represents a radical departure from the previous jazz/fusion based excursion, Live In Warsaw! With this new studio set, the Paul Wertico Trio abides by a highly energized crash and burn credo. A venture that often sparks reflections of 70's hard rock power rock trio fare, which is starkly evident on the throughly in-your-face blues-boogie opener, "Clybourn Strut." Here, Wertico performs a booming and slightly overstated New Orleans-style shuffle groove in support of electric guitarist John Moulder's boisterous crunch-chord attack and spirited lead soloing. Throughout, the trio produces a great wall-of-sound effect, which is partly due to the curiously interesting (yet often earsplitting) audio mix. Hence, on "Long Journey's End," the trio ambles along like some sort of weighty mass or perhaps akin to a heavy-metal arena rock band as you visualize the stacks of Marshall amps nestled behind the musicians on stage. On this piece, Wertico bangs the heck out of his kit amid Eric Hochberg's cyclic bass patterns and Moulder's extremely loud yet charmingly raucous lead soloing. The proceedings calm down for a spell on "Justa Little Tuna," which features a nighttime lullaby-like theme atop Hochberg's muted trumpet lines; the overall vibe elicits imagery of a live band prepping the audience for an ensuing. However, the trio culminates this affair with heedless abandon on "Testament" as the musicians also inject some free-jazz fun and frolic into this effervescent brew via divergent tempos, emotive interplay and pleasently neurotic pandemonium.

As the drummer for the Pat Metheny Group, Paul Wertico usually adheres to Metheny's brand of folk-jazz fusion. On his own trio's third album, though, Wertico takes a more experimental route, full of adventurous sound explorations in the vein of frequent Metheny collaborator, Ornette Coleman. The trio's other members -- the supremely talented Eric Hochberg on bass, trumpet and other instruments and John Moulder on guitar -- push the music into unexpected places.

Philadelphia City Paper

Rock and jazz have endured all sorts of relationships over the years, but rarely a marriage as harmonious as this. Not quite a fusion band, nor an outright "jazz-rock" experiment, the combination of drummer Paul Wertico, electric bassist Eric Hochberg and electric guitarist John Moulder instead results in a sort of improvisational power trio; a unit proficient in the dialects of both aggression and finesse, and resourceful enough to deploy both approaches at once. Consider "African Sunset," a modal, bass-heavy excursion in 5/4; it could almost be a Pharoah Sanders tune, as rendered by Andy Summers. Look to the raucous second-line pocket of "Clybourn Strut," or the energetic 6/4 jam on "Taliaville." Or check out "Long Journey’s End," an intense, rolling piece perhaps best characterized as industrial samba. Wertico, best-known for his association with the Pat Metheny Group, plays with sharp resolve no matter what the context. Moulder and Hochberg are deeply intuitive wingmen, and proficient soloists. To be sure, there are a few gaffes ("Justa Little Tuna" finds Moulder playing the Bill Frisell card with Hochberg cooing blandly on muted trumpet). Nevertheless, this disc is a smart synthesis of rock and jazz energies. With any luck, it might rally audiences from both camps.

Drummer Paul Wertico explores a noticeably harder edge in the music of his trio than in his work with the jazz guitar giant Pat Metheny. This jazz "power" trio offers an often-heavy slant to their blues, rock, and world music-inflected instrumentals. Wertico's command of both drum set and exotic percussion instruments adds a unique flavor to the music, which primarily finds its focus in guitarist John Moulder's eclectic tones. Also adding a unique voice is bassist Eric Hochberg. Musically, the trio covers a broad spectrum of interesting areas. The African boogie groove of the opener "Clybourn Strut" is a good clue that typical fusion is not what this band is after. Contrast that with the more ethereal "The Visit," with it's chattering percussion and distant wails, and the raucously driving "Long Journey's End" and one gets the idea that the primary musical force behind the trio is the pure freedom of exploration. Other unique statements include Wertico's floating "Justa Little Tuna," featuring Hochberg on muted trumpet, and the rocking closer "Testament."

Illinois Entertainer

While jam bands and neo-fusion acts like Medeski, Martin and Wood, John Scofield, and Charlie Hunter serve to introduce the corporate-weary college music crowd to progressive jazz, the deeper, more authentic end of fusion's new wave is the territory of artists like Chicago drummer/band leader Paul Wertico. On his first solo studio release Don't Be Scared Anymore, Wertico and guitarist John Moulder (Eddie Harris, Terry Callier) and bassist/trumpeter Eric Hochberg (Cassandra Wilson, Kurt Elling) lay down an inspired set of rock-rooted, jazz-tinged funk-grooves that roar with personality. Jazz purists turned off by the loose vibe of Medeski, Martin and Wood will find much to like in Wertico's crisp, in-your-face punch. The trio's sound structure is all jazz, but its output is pure fusion. On the free-wheeling cut, "Long Journey's End," Moulder provides a nonstop electric guitar buzz around which Wertico and Hochberg wrap tight solos. On the Hochberg penned "Clybourn Strut," the trio attack their instruments, achieving a Scofield like intensity that rings more sincere. Later, Hochberg takes the lead on "Liftoff," pulling his counterparts into standard position and allowing each to trade time, a staple of genuine jazz. After 20 years at the kit, Wertico, a seven-time Grammy-winner as a member of the Pat Metheny Group, knows how to deliver and distribute power. Rarely is a leader willing to sacrifice the spotlight in order to create a lasting impression. The trio's commitment to jazz fundamentals provide needed focus to the often blurry product released today. Though this is not entry-level jazz, if you're one of those college kids who think they know the scene, check this one out.

Chicago Tribune

Drummer-bandleader Paul Wertico proves fearless in the most impressive recording of his career, but listeners need to keep an open mind to appreciate it. By drawing from mainstream swing, avant-funk and free-jazz idioms, among others, Wertico neatly sums up the last 30 years of jazz evolution. But this is no history lesson. Wertico and his trio - with guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg - simply revel in every jazz language that comes to mind, thereby creating one of the most spirited, uninhibited and free-ranging statements of the year.

Shepherd Express Metro

The Chicago ensemble, led by former Pat Metheny drummer Paul Wertico, continues an innovative tradition of exploratory jazz with their recent release. Wertico's unique percussion skills bring a nearly melodic prominence to the drum set, which blends stirringly with the steely guitar and trumpet lines. Thanks to the musicians' masterfully improvisational style, each track maintains a refreshing sense of interest. Though the album's complexity and innovation will appeal primarily to jazz enthusiasts, the more upbeat tracks will resonate among modern rock fans as well.

World Percussion and Rhythm

After experiencing tremendous success as a member of the Pat Metheny Group, drum kit player Paul Wertico (with John Moulder - guitar and Eric Hochberg - bass, trumpet and guitar), takes full advantage of his independent status and puts together a remarkable, hard-hitting collection of originals for Don't Be Scared Anymore. This CD follows his 1997 recording, Live In Warsaw! (Igmod) which received four stars from Downbeat Magazine. He has a style that has inspired critics to describe him as "a restless innovator", "an inspired madman" and "an impressionist painter on the drums". Wertico says "I hear a lot of energy coming from the drums with all the 'ring' left in the kit. The music I like has an almost 'hitting-the-ceiling' kind of energy as though it's continually peaking." On this recording of the Paul Wertico Trio, rock, jazz, Jam-band and the avant-garde co-exist naturally. And yes, it's an almost exhausting, but highly uplifting musical experience.

Mostly as an introspective venture, the Paul Wertico Trio has released a musical statement that I think may be of interests to the jazz purists out there. Through instrumental form, with thought and emotion they go about sketching a release that appeals to the listener on a new level with the introduction of each cut. The train motif on the CD jacket is for the self-described locomotive style that they were after with this recording. Paul Wertico, the drum and percussion force behind this trio, crafts one of the most unique styles that I found of late, notably on such songs as "African Sunset", and "Taliaville". His is more the style of a separate instrumentalist rather than a time-keeper, where most drummers tend to fall into; exploring his own nooks and crannies for that just-right rhythm, mixed in percussion, to accent to scales and sonnets of John Moulder. Moulder, the guitarist who is ever-present on this album, has a crisp, clean sound that can only be attributed to a life of playing jazz. He knows when to take over, and when to fill in the colors. One such place is behind the soulful trumpet playing of Eric Hochberg, who leads a triple life here on the many basses, the trumpet and second guitar. This band of non-traditional artists go so far as to explore the heavens during cuts like "Justa Little Tuna", and back to a funk and groove in "Testament", only to touch go and launch off again. Never once do see any one member stepping up to take the leads, but rather the whole follow each other down corridors of creativity... testing the waters by diving in. As for the front namesake, Paul Wertico himself is a seven time Grammy Award winner/Modern Drummer Magazine & DRUM! Magazine Reader's Poll winner, and has recorded with such jazz greats as Pat Metheny. It is, however, difficult to have much to say about such an experimental music form, nor is it the desired way to experience it. All I can say is that if you are a jazz purist or tend to have an inkling in that direction, check out the Paul Wertico Trio, they are what jazz bands spawned from.

LA Weekly

Fusion music, resurrected and transfigured in glory. Chicago drummer Wertico, long the anchor of Pat Metheny's band, teams with hometown buds John Moulder (guitar) and Eric Hochberg (bass, guitar, trumpet) for jungly or textured or trippy or just electrifying statements of purpose and passion, creating a world with each track. This record simply stands out.

Drummer Paul Wertico, a 7-time Grammy winner with the Pat Metheny Group, breaks free from the typical jazzster recording with a scorching, in your face set of original tunes on his Premonition Records debut Don't Be Scared Anymore. On this recording, Paul is joined by guitar-slinger John Moulder, who has been called a cross between Robert Fripp and John Scofield, and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Eric Hochberg (Terry Callier, Kurt Elling) forming a modern day power trio sure to grab the attention of rockers, jazzers and jam-band enthusiasts.

With John Moulder on guitar and Eric Hochberg on bass, I like to call Don't Be Scared Anymore, Paul Wertico's hybrid of Jazz, Rock and Blues. What makes this album so interesting and downright exciting is its blend of muscle and subtle complexities. Wertico, Moulder, and Hochberg offer the listener multidimensional and highly imaginative work, without any compromise. Check out tracks "Clybourn Strut", where Wertico uses some very nice New Orleans second line elements to generate a great groove, and "African Sunset", a Rock/fusion blast that shows Wertico's prowess in any situation. Check out the type of union he creates with John Moulder's adrenaline charged guitar work on "Long Journey's End", again making the case that there's something for everyone on Don't Be Scared Anymore.

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Paul Wertico is an underrated drummer. He first came into prominence as part of the Pat Metheny Group. He joined that band in 1984 [sic], replacing original drummer Danny Gottlieb, for the album First Circle. He ended up staying with Pat Metheny for almost 20 years…touring around the world, selling boatloads of albums and winning Grammys along the way.

Here they are performing “Have You Heard” on the Night Music television show in 1989:
Pat Metheny Group. Have You Heard. Night Music 28-10-1989. Remastered.

Paul Wertico also played with other Pat Metheny related projects, such as this amazing ensemble with saxophonist Ernie Watts and bassist Charlie Haden:
SPECIAL QUARTET Pat Metheny,Ernie Watts,Charlie Haden,Paul Wertico

In 2001, Paul Wertico grew tired of always being on the road and wanted to spend more time at home with his family. He ended up focusing his time in his hometown of Chicago.

He ended up becoming a professor and faculty member at both Northwestern University and Roosevelt University.

He also performed solo in drum clinics and released instructional videos. Here is a clip from Paul Wertico’s Drum Philosophy (which I still have on VHS!):
"Cowboys & Africans" from "Paul Wertico's Drum Philosophy"

He also formed the Paul Wertico Trio around this time. The song in the previous video, “Cowboys & Africans”, is a song the trio would perform.

The Paul Wertico Trio consisted of guitarist John Moulder (who is also a Catholic priest!) and bassist Eric Hochberg.

They played an intense, loud and aggressive, yet funky, version of jazz fusion. They played extensively throughout Chicago from 2002-2006 or so. I was lucky enough to be living in Chicago at that time and saw them every chance I got (probably dozens of times over the years). I saw them in The Green Mill, The Hot House, The Jazz Showcase and many other smaller clubs and coffee shops. They were a tremendous band and their sets varied from night to night.

Their debut solo album was Don’t Be Scared Anymore and is today’s pick. It is probably still my favorite recording of the group as it accurately reflects what they sounded like during that period. The album features all original tunes written by each of the members and has some great soloing throughout. For those who like their jazz to rock (like me), this is a highly recommended record!

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