Grammy-winning artist to perform in C-U

By Rose-Ann Aragon

Champaign-Urbana is about to get a taste of some unique jazz. A seven-time Grammy Award winning artist, Paul Wertico, is performing at the Krannert Center Saturday night with his band, Paul Wertico’s Mideast/Midwest Alliance. The band features John Moulder and Dani Rabin on guitar, Brian Peters on bass, Danny Markovitch on saxophone and Paul Wertico on the drums.

Wertico described his music as very spontaneous seeing that most of their music is jazz that is, for the majority, improvised. The instruments used are less familiar to the general listener making the music unlike anything most people have ever heard. The band incorporated sounds of a duduk, a woodwind instrument popular in the middle east, into their music which is played by Peters. An electronic saxophone, played by Markovitch, is another sound unique to the group.

The band’s music is written by every member. Wertico hopes the audience doesn’t go home empty-handed.

“I want to be inspiring for people to listen to. I want them to kind of go to places they probably haven’t gone before. It’s almost like I got this car, a full tank of gas, we don’t know where we’re going, but I promise we’ll get you home safely,” Wertico said.

Their music reflects this attitude. Their first record, Impressions of the City, which was not only “totally improvised,” but it had been the first time the band had ever played together.

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    The band was not always a quintet.

    “The Mideast/Midwest Alliance was formed when a guitarist and sax player called me up. They just moved here from Chicago, and they’re both Israelis,” said Wertico. “When I heard them play, they were like the perfect fit to go in with my trio and make it a quintet.”

    The band has been together for about two years and have since traveled all over the world.

    Wertico indicated that part of their success is based on exceptional group chemistry. Each player contributes not only for themselves but for each other. He said it also comes from their love for the art.

    “My whole life just been a big improvisation. You hopefully make the right decisions, and you do things you truly love…and where you end up is usually the right direction,” Wertico said.

    Paul Wertico’s Mideast/Midwest Alliance will play Saturday at 9:30p.m. at Krannert.