The "reunion" in this ad hoc ensemble's name has a rather narrow focus: it refers to the fact that Eric Hochberg, one of Chicago's most soulful bass men, attended college more than 20 years ago with keyboardist Alan Pasqua, and they both thought they'd like to play together again. That's the excuse for cooking up this quartet; but any excuse that brings both Pasqua and saxist Bob Sheppard to town--and also puts drummer Paul Wertico back in the driver's seat--requires neither apology nor further explanation. Sheppard is certainly one of the best saxophonists you don't know by name; an LA studio rat, he tempers the swaggering sound demanded for commercial work with a steady stream of tuneful ideas--some of which have shown up on albums by pianist Billy Child and, in the previous decade, Freddie Hubbard. Pasqua's resume leans further away from pure jazz, with his membership in the neofusion New Tony Williams Lifetime dominating the page, but he enhances both mainstream and rock-influenced projects with a sparkling (at times almost brittle) approach to keyboard improvisation. If you haven't been reading this space over the last few years, you might not know about the hyperdrive energy and creative precision that distinguish the drumming of Wertico, the redoubtable anchor of the Pat Metheny Group; in any case, now you do. And Hochberg, in addition to the purposefully understated accompaniment work that distinguishes him from many of his less effective contemporaries, has proved himself a savvy bandleader in recent years. He also writes some great tunes, which along with several compositions from Pasqua's recently released Milagro (Postcards) will form the backbone of this quartet's weekend repertoire. Friday, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878- 5552.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Luis Delgado, Joanne Dugan.