Paul Wertico

Paul Wertico, born on January 5, 1953 in Chicago, IL, is an American jazz/fusion drummer, best known for his drumming with the Pat Metheny Group (1983-2001).

During his tenure with Metheny, Wertico played on ten recordings and four videos, appeared on numerous television shows, and frequently toured around the world. He also won seven Grammy Awards (for "Best Jazz Fusion Performance," "Best Contemporary Jazz Performance," and "Best Rock Instrumental Performance"), magazine polls, and received several gold records.

In recent years, Wertico has continued to tour and perform around the world, as well as around the Chicago metropolitan area, where he is based. This led to the creation of his own band (the Paul Wertico Trio) and collaborations with jazz notables such as Larry Coryell, Kurt Elling, and Jeff Berlin. These collaborations enabled Wertico to be featured on group recordings in a variety of musical genres, and also gave him an opportunity to produce records. In 2009, Wertico's trio joined forces with Marbin, which consisted of Israeli musicians Danny Markovitch (saxophone) and Dani Rabin (guitar). The group performed as Paul Wertico's Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance, and recorded an album for the Chicago Sessions label that received accolades from publications such as the Chicago Tribune, DRUM!, and Modern Drummer. Wertico's current group is Wertico Cain & Gray, featuring multi-instrumentalists David Cain and Larry Gray. A 2013 recording by Wertico Cain & Gray, entitled Sound Portraits, won "Best Live Performance Album" in the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards (2014).

When not touring, Wertico divides his career doing session work, producing, composing, and leading his own groups, as well as teaching. Among the musicians with whom he has played are Eddie Harris, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Sam Rivers, Bob Mintzer, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco, Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, Jay McShann, Herbie Mann, Randy Brecker, Jerry Goodman, Ramsey Lewis, David Bowie, Charlie Haden, George Coleman, Diane Schuur, Nelson Riddle, Sonny Fortune, Ken Nordine, Tierney Sutton, and many others. Wertico is a member of the Larry Coryell Power Trio. From 2000 to 2007, he was a member of the platinum-record-winning Polish progressive rock band, SBB. He is also the inventor of TUBZ, made by Pro-Mark (who also makes the “Paul Wertico Signature Drum Stick”), as well as a new independently manufactured signature product called “Paul Wertico’s Acousticx”.

Wertico played drums on Paul Winter's 1990 Grammy-nominated release, Earth: Voices Of A Planet. He has also played on and produced a number of CDs for artists, including vocalist Kurt Elling's 1995 Grammy-nominated release, Close Your Eyes, as well as Elling's 1997 Grammy-nominated release, The Messenger, 1998 Grammy-nominated release, This Time It's Love, and 2003 Grammy-nominated release, Man In The Air.

Wertico has performed in all 50 states and in more than 60 countries. His playing has been compared to that of an "Impressionist painter," while he has also been described as "an inspired madman," "a restless innovator," "a true legend of jazz drums," "a master of drumming insanity," and "a genius of the sticks." In 2004, Wertico was named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune, and he has also been recommended by that newspaper and the Chicago Sun-Times for multiple album-of-the-year awards. In addition to Wertico's awards as a member of the Pat Metheny Group, he was voted "Fusion Drummer Of The Year" in DRUM! magazine’s readers poll and placed in the top five in the electric-jazz category in Modern Drummer magazine's readers polls. Wertico has appeared on the covers of Drum Tracks, Modern Drummer, Chicago Jazz, Percussioni (Italy), Belgo Beat (Belgium), PerQsja (Poland) and Bateristas al Sur (South America). In 2010, the Cape Breton International Drum Festival awarded him with a “Life Time Achievement Award” for his “Major Contribution To The World Of Drumming & Education,” and he also received the Montréal Drum Fest’s coveted career recognition award. In addition, as Musical Director for the crowdsourced TV video series, Inventing The Future, Paul was nominated for a 2012-2013 Emmy Award in the “Outstanding Achievement In Interactivity” category by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Midwest Chapter. Paul also hosted his own radio show, Paul Wertico’s Wild World of Jazz, from 2010 to 2012.

Paul Wertico - ProMark

Wertico is also extremely active in the field of education. In addition to teaching drums privately for 45 years, he is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts, and he also headed the school’s Jazz & Contemporary Music Studies program for five years. He also served on the faculty of the percussion and jazz-studies programs at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois for 16 years, and also taught at the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago for several years. He has written educational articles for magazines such as Modern Drummer, DRUM!, Drums & Drumming, Drum Tracks, and DownBeat, and for He also serves on the advisory board of Modern Drummer, and was one of MD’s 2011 Pro-Panelists. Wertico is serving his fifth term on the Board of Governors of The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter of NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), as well as serving on both the Advisory Board and the Education Committee of The Jazz Institute of Chicago.

Wertico has performed numerous drum clinics and master classes at universities, high schools, and music stores in the U.S. and around the world, including Drummers Collective in NYC, Percussion Institute of Technology in LA, North Texas State University, and the University of Miami, as well as Musicians Institute in England, Drummers Institute in Germany, Università della Musica in Italy, Escuela de Música de Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the Rimon School of Jazz in Israel. He has been a featured clinician/soloist at numerous international drum festivals including Canada’s Cape Breton International Drum Festival and the Montréal Drum Fest, Uruguay’s Montevideo Drum Festival, the CrossDrumming International Festival of Percussive Arts in Poland, the Mendoza International Drum Festival in Argentina, the Percussion Camp International Percussion Festival in Greece, and the First International Drummers Week in Venezuela, as well as at schools and festivals in New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, France, Sweden, Ireland, and Spain. He also performed at the 1994, 1999 & 2002 Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, the 1997 Modern Drummer Drum Festival (and appeared in videos of two of those events), and the 2005, 2013 & 2014 Chicago Drum Shows. Wertico is featured on the Drum Workshop videos, The American Dream II, and The American Dream III. He has released two instructional videos: Fine-Tuning Your Performance and Paul Wertico's Drum Philosophy — the latter (that is also available on DVD), was named “One of the best drum videos of the last 25 years” by Modern Drummer magazine.

Wertico's debut CD as a leader, The Yin And The Yout, received a four-star rating in DownBeat magazine. His 1998 trio CD, Live In Warsaw!, received 41⁄2 stars from DownBeat and featured guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg. The trio's 2000 studio recording, entitled Don't Be Scared Anymore, received reviews of "This album is like the soundtrack to the world's coolest vacation" from All About Jazz and "Jazz-rock in the truest sense" from All Music Guide. Wertico's 2004 CD, StereoNucleosis, was released to extremely positive reviews. The Chicago Tribune wrote: "A brilliant release - Wertico shows a thrilling disregard for stylistic boundaries. StereoNucleosis is one of the most intelligent, creative and alluring percussion recordings of the past decade. Wertico reaffirms his position among the most restlessly inventive drummers working today." All Music Guide reported: "Wertico and his players have done something wonderful and rare: they've actually created something not only different, but also truly new." LA Weekly wrote: "His recent records, such as 2000's Don't Be Scared Anymore and the new StereoNucleosis are stunning examples of the electronic, rhythmic and intellectual directions jazz could be going." Wertico's 2006 CD, Another Side, was released on the audiophile Naim Label; it was described as "a brilliant collaborative effort between these three uniquely talented musicians."

His 2010 CD, Impressions Of A City, featuring his band, Paul Wertico’s Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance, has been described in reviews as “One of the most impressively spontaneous albums you'll find on this planet - or any other"; “Haunting and memorable…an engaging musical experiment and one that is highly unique.”; “This is musical narrative at its finest. A fanfare for the common (and mechanically exploited) 21st century man and woman.”; “Sometimes beautiful, other times tense or just plain spooky, Impressions Of A City ought to go some way toward correcting the dubious reputation of avant-garde music.”; “A wildly unpredictable journey into one man’s apparently inexhaustible sonic imagination.”; and DownBeat magazine gave it 41⁄2 stars, listed it as one its “Best CDs of 2010”, and wrote "What makes the music work is not only that Wertico is not content to just "play it straight" as a drummer but that his skills as a conceptualist/leader may even be greater. A heads-up for all budding drummers (check out Wertico's inventive pause of a solo on "My Side Of The Story") who would like to hear and create music that goes beyond just keeping time." This band also released a live in concert DVD, entitled Live From SPACE, that has been reviewed by the Chicago Examiner as “More than setting tones, moods, and the stage for future, like-minded experimentation, these talented musicians have managed to also push the limits of what jazz can be, while entertaining a wider form of audience.”; and wrote “For Wertico fans, this DVD is a must have, showcasing innovative, finely tuned jazz talent. For new fans of modern jazz, this would be a staple, and a great place to start before your journey backwards.”

Wertico has also released numerous recordings as co-leader: a self-titled LP, Earwax Control, and a live Earwax Control CD entitled, Number Two Live; a self-titled LP, Spontaneous Composition; a drum/percussion duo CD (with Gregg Bendian) entitled BANG!; a double-guitar/double-drum three-CD set (with Derek Bailey, Pat Metheny and Bendian) entitled The Sign Of 4; and two piano/bass/drums trio CDs (with Laurence Hobgood and Brian Torff) entitled Union and State Of The Union.

In 2007, Wertico and Brian Peters released their CD, Ampersand, which called "Simply a musical masterpiece" and Classic Drummer magazine described as "one of the most ambitious records ever released. Recorded over a period of four years, it documents a completely new approach to combine elements of both Rock and Jazz music while resulting in a very listenable and captivating final product." That same year he released Jazz Impressions 1 with pianist Silvano Monasterios and bassist Mark Egan. Chicago Jazz magazine wrote: "From the first note of Jazz Impressions 1, you know you're in for something interesting and different. What these three do with that format, however, is nothing short of breathtaking."

His latest releases include a DVD & CD by David Cain & Paul Wertico entitled Feast For The Senses; a CD by Paul Wertico & Frank Catalano entitled Topics Of Conversation; a CD by Fabrizio Mocata, Gianmarco Scaglia & Paul Wertico entitled Free The Opera!!!; a DVD & award-winning CD by Wertico Cain & Gray entitled Sound Portraits; and a second CD by Wertico Cain & Gray entitled Out In SPACE.

Paul's major endorsements include: Drum Workshop, Paiste, Remo, Pro-Mark, and Shure.