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Paul Wertico & Frank Catalano - Topics Of Conversation


Despite a 25-year difference in age, Catalano (who balances his jazz life with guest spots in rock and even metal bands) and Wertico - the versatile, multiple GRAMMY-award winning drummer, best known for his 18 years in Pat Metheny's group, who leads two noteworthy bands of his own in Chicago - have a great deal in common.

That becomes clear on their album, a pre-release copy of which I've had the opportunity to hear. To many listeners, the bond between these two would seem obvious. Both Catalano and Wertico have the ability to pour forth hyper-expressive, high-octane improvisations: cyclonic energy music. And ever since John Coltrane's sax-drums duets with Rashid Ali, in the mid-1960s, no context has better suited such no-holds-barred interaction.

In such situations, you could say that "nothing succeeds like excess," and both artists can tap into a seemingly limitless storehouse of power, ideas, and technique.

But while Topics Of Conversation has plenty of that, it also features an equal amount of quieter, more spacious communication between the two. This will surprise those listeners who never get past the fireworks when listening to either Catalano or Wertico on their own. Yet both of them can boast an artistic depth that often gets overlooked. Indeed, the salient aspect of Topics Of Conversation turns out to be the music's emotional range - as well as the artists' ability to tame this frankly difficult and often inaccessible format.

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