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Wertico Cain & Gray - Without Compromise

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Something Else!

For their seventh collaborative effort Without Compromise, drummer Paul Wertico, keyboardist/saxophonist David Cain and bassist Larry Gray repeat their prior formula of making technologically savvy improvised music without a script. It’s cutting edge sounds only made possible by tried-and-true qualities of instinct, musicianship and gumption, but for Without Compromise, they make that experience much more immersive.

This isn’t simply a music album, although it does come in high definition stereo mix with a 5.1 option available. Wertico Cain and Gray’s whole, 100% spontaneously created audio art is accompanied by video footage capturing the mad studio scientists at work in three different formats. 4k 360 VR, Dual HD Animated, and Flat Earth HD are the video presentations offered, with the former being particularly badassed. That’s because the 360-degree camera was positioned right in the middle of the Wertico Cain and Gray circle and the viewer can pan the camera around to view any of the three maestros at any time.

The hourlong performance itself is a musical sojourn, the kind that’s made much more rousing by the musicians not knowing — much less the listener — of what lies just ahead but just allowing things to unfold at a natural cadence. We hear Wertico light the fire at the start and soon after, Cain and Gray make the brushstrokes the finish the first permutation of an ever-evolving portrait.

What my ears tell me is that Wertico often plays the instigator, Cain the colorist and Gray is the harmonic center; the eyes confirm this. But all play the crucial role of listening closely to each other as they each astutely pick their spots to alternately hold back to digest the moment in anticipating the next one, and lunge ahead to influence the upcoming direction.

This isn’t a nonstop one hour but rather, a collection of distinctive performances. For the second track, the contemplative “Before It’s Too Late,” Gray is seen with a standup acoustic bass instead of the Fender bass he was wielding previously and on the following “Indelible Interactions,” Cain is blowing on a MIDI wind controller instrument (which emits some weirdly wonderful noises that makes Cain sound like Keith Emerson). Wertico will alternately drape his cymbals with t-shirts to control its resonance and take them off to increase it. For “The Mystery of Growth,” he applies mallets as Gray saws his double-bass, setting a tone that stands apart from other tracks. Gray even pulls out an effects-laden flute for one cut, and Wertico dispenses of his drums altogether for shakers on another. Not to mention those endless array of sounds Cain is capable of manipulating out of his software-driven keyboard.

For those more enamored by unplugged instrumentation, Wertico Cain and Gray offer up convincing sax/acoustic bass/drums free jazz jams “The Solution Is In Front of Us” and “Rejoice In Who We Are.”

Many of these adjustments big and small could easily go unnoticed but actually witnessing the multitude of little things that goes into making music on the fly is remarkable and increases appreciation of the end product. Nothing was spared in making this a rich listening and viewing experience, a stunning blend of virtuosity and technology.

And now, you know why this album is named Without Compromise.

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You are here: Home > Reviews > Wertico Cain & Gray - Without Compromise