PAUL WERTICO'S WICKED SICS
The hyperkineticism of drummer Paul Wertico isn't confined to his aggressively inventive rhythms and fills: it extends to the gamut of configurations he runs whenever he gets time off from his regular gig with the Pat Metheny Group. Wertico's Sybil act has come to a head in the Wicked Sics, in which two of his multiple musical personalities will finally communicate with each other--to what end, we can only guess. Half of the Wicked Sics comes from Wertico's favorite touring band, an explosive power trio comprising bassist Eric Hochberg and guitarist John Moulder; so much for the relatively conventional portion of our program. The Sics also feature a second bassist in Jeff Czech, along with keyboardist Gordon James--Wertico's cohorts in the sporadically active Earwax Control, the dadaist jazz trio from a galaxy far, far away. Reedman Rich Fudoli--an at times startlingly innovative player who walks on the music's wild side--completes a lineup of unusual breadth and great potential lunacy. This group has an easily identified seam: In his trio, the interplay between Wertico and Moulder takes on the nature of a cyclone; each inspires the other to push the beat and the volume a little further, to the point where the two fronts converge and the music threatens to lift off the stage. (Fudoli is that kind of improviser, too.) But Wertico's interaction with the others takes a different, even opposite tack: as often as not, Earwax Control has propelled the music via cognitive dissonance, each player off on his own tangent. Since Wertico's drumming has proved integral to both bands, look to him to mix and match these competing concepts. This is the first (and only?) engagement of the Wicked Sics, and I'll be there--if only to see whether the center will hold. Friday, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Brad Miller.