A new and innovative CD featuring 40 short improvisations by the Chicago-area trio Wertico Cain & Gray reflects the kind of philosophy that Roosevelt University professor Paul Wertico embraces in his teaching at Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA).
An associate professor of jazz and contemporary music studies and a seven-time Grammy Award winner, Wertico regularly encourages students to use imagination when performing, which is exactly what he’s done on Short Cuts – 40 Improvisations.
“In my mind, making music is all about exploring,” said Wertico, who teaches drums, and various courses and combos in CCPA’s Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies Program. “It’s about being creative as a teacher, student and person in order to expand the horizons of what is possible. That is what makes us successful in music as well as in life.”
The new CD features Wertico on drums and percussion; Larry Gray, a Roosevelt alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Cello Performance and an associate professor of jazz studies at the University of Illinois, on acoustic bass; and David Cain, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and filmmaker who has taught at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Robert Morris University in Chicago.
With five CDs and two DVDs to its credit, this award-winning improvisational trio regularly uses iPhones, iPads and digital cinema in its performances, creating sounds that uniquely combine words and technology with acoustic and electric instruments.
“We also incorporate many diverse musical elements, from rock to classical music, so it’s a completely new and original sound, and not simply free jazz,” said Wertico.
The intention of this new innovative music is to take a dream trip that frees musicians’ and listeners’ minds from all boundaries. Tracks are short – just 35 seconds to two minutes and 33 seconds in length – in order to appeal to today’s busy listeners. However, taken as a whole, the CD can be considered a single, spontaneous composition about the process of exploration.
With track titles like “Always,” “Taking Chances,” “Exploring Mysteries,” “Without a Net,” Short Cuts – 40 Improvisations is like “poetry on the fly,” according to Wertico, whose goal with the new CD is simply to create art – an aim he doesn’t want Roosevelt students to lose sight of as they learn the importance that discipline plays in becoming a professional musician.
“Creativity and self-expression can be natural as well as learned, and it is my job to teach students how to keep, as well as how to enhance, those skills, while they also study the essential fundamentals and disciplines necessary to becoming successful professional musicians,” he said.
Nadav Simon, a current drum student in CCPA’s jazz and contemporary music studies program, said Wertico’s non-traditional approach to drumming has encouraged him not only to find his own voice as a drummer but also to encourage kids he’s been teaching music to this summer to do the same.
“Paul has taught me to be the best in the world as myself when I play drums, and that’s what I also tell my students,” said Simon.
“I left Roosevelt not just wanting to be a bebop jazz player,” added Roosevelt alumnus Mitch Settecase, who has been a drummer performing everything from Motown to rock and jazz since receiving his bachelor’s in Jazz Studies from the University in 2015.
“Paul encouraged me to put my toes in the water in a lot of different styles and genres, and I’m really enjoying the variety I’ve been experiencing,” he said.
Short Cuts – 40 Improvisations is available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/short-cuts-40-improvisations/id1112319849 or http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/werticocaingray4
You can also listen to the track “On, Inside and Behind” off the new CD at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtMPDrgrV90
For more information, visit Wertico Cain & Gray’s website at: https://werticocainandgray.com or contact Wertico at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-341-6591.