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Paul Wertico Extended Biography:

Born in Chicago, Illinois on January 5, 1953, Paul Wertico started playing drums at the age of 12 and became a professional by the age of 15. Self-taught on the drumset, he developed his unique musical concept by listening not only to jazz and rock, but to a variety of musical styles from all over the world. He then applied elements of these styles to his drumming in a melodic, as well as a rhythmic fashion. His playing has been compared to that of "an Impressionist painter", while he has also been described as "an inspired madman" and "a restless innovator". Paul was voted "Fusion Drummer Of The Year" in the 1997 DRUM! magazine Readers Poll, and placed in the top five in the "Electric Jazz" category of Modern Drummer magazine's 1997 & 1998 Readers Polls. In 2004, Paul was named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune.

In 1983, Paul became a member of the Pat Metheny Group. During that time he won seven Grammy Awards with the PMG: three for Best Jazz Fusion Performance: First Circle - 1984, Still Life (Talking) - 1987, and Letter From Home - 1989; three for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance: The Road To You - 1993, We Live Here - 1995, and Imaginary Day - 1998; one for Best Rock Instrumental Performance: "Roots Of Coincidence" - 1998; as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "Follow Me" - 1998. He also played on Pat Metheny's Grammy winning solo project: Secret Story - 1992. Paul played on the Group's videos More Travels and We Live Here - Live In Japan 1995, and on Pat Metheny's Secret Story - LIVE video. He also played with Pat on the score and soundtrack for the movie The Falcon And The Snowman, which included the hit song "This Is Not America" featuring David Bowie; and on the score to the movie Twice In A Lifetime. In February 1986, Paul joined Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, and Ernie Watts in Argentina for a week of critically acclaimed engagements, and the summer of 1988 saw a revival of the 'Special Quartet' with performances in California, Japan, and Hong Kong. During 1993, Paul and his wife, Barbara Unger-Wertico, toured together as members of Pat's Secret Story band, performing in 18 countries around the world. In October 1997, the Pat Metheny Group released their latest recording entitled Imaginary Day. Paul left the PMG in February of 2001.

When not on the road, Paul resides in the Chicagoland area where he is engaged in many creative activities:

  1. His involvement with "Word Jazz" creator Ken Nordine includes playing drums and percussion and doing drum programming for a number of Ken's radio shows for National Public Radio and for five of Nordine's recordings: Triple Talk, Grandson Of Word Jazz, Ear Package, Upper Limbo, and Transparent Mask.
  2. He co-led and recorded an album with the critically acclaimed avant-garde trio Spontaneous Composition, and continues to co-lead the enigmatic group Earwax Control, which won NARAS's "ORA" (Outrageous Recording Award) in 1990 for the song "Dogshit Blues". He also produced 'Earwax Control's' second release, a CD entitled 2 LIVE for the Naim Audio label.
  3. He co-leads the free spirited band 'Trio New'; and leads five other highly adventurous and unique groups: Paul Wertico's Strapagander, Paul Wertico's Quintet Thing, the Paul Wertico Group, Paul Wertico's Wicked Sics, and the Paul Wertico Trio, which released a live CD entitled Live In Warsaw! in 1998 and a studio CD entitled Don't Be Scared Anymore.
  4. He keeps a busy schedule as a freelance artist (playing with both local and internationally known jazz artists); a studio musician (playing drums and percussion on countless jingles); a session player (playing drums and percussion on scores of record dates).
  5. He is involved in playing on and/or producing a number of new albums of Chicagoland artists, including guitarist John Moulder's CDs Awakening and Through The Open Door; trumpet player Bobby Lewis' five CDs: Inside This Song, Passion Flower, Here I Go Again, Flugel Gourmet and Just Havin' Some Fun; and vocalist Kurt Elling's four CDs: Close Your Eyes (which received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Performance - 1995), The Messenger (which received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Performance - 1997), This Time It's Love (which received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Performance - 1998) and Man In The Air (which received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Performance - 2003).
  6. He programs drum parts for a writing team that includes his wife, Barbara, and noted songwriter/singer Jim Peterik. Together, they have written songs for groups such as the Doobie Brothers and Mecca.
  7. In addition, Paul has also been elected five times to serve on the Board of Governors: three terms for the Chicago Chapter of NARAS (The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences), and two terms for The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter.

Hailed as "one of the most musical and well-rounded drummers in music today", Paul's versatility has enabled him to appear in a wide variety of musical settings such as:

Download Drum Workshop - Artists Wallpaper (1024x768):/images/wertico_wallpaper_1024.jpg

Some of the many other jazz artists Paul has performed with include:

Larry Coryell

Eddie Harris

Lee Konitz

Ben Sidran

Dave Liebman

Herbie Mann

Lew Tabackin

Chico Freeman

Sam Rivers

Terry Gibbs

Buddy DeFranco

Bob Mintzer

Muhal Richard Abrams

Ken McIntyre

Von Freeman

Marcus Belgrave

Ira Sullivan

Bunky Green

Joshua Breakstone

Tim Hagans

Milt Hinton

Roscoe Mitchell

Rick Margitza

Evan Parker

Jay McShann

Art Porter

Lester Bowie

Surgey Kuryokhin

Randy Brecker

John McNeal

Scott Hamilton

Jaco Pastorius

Judy Roberts

Mars Williams

Emmett Chapman

Gene Harris

Richie Cole

Willie Pickens

Lou Levy

George Freeman

Ron Carter

Tomasz Stanko

Joe Daley

Jim Pepper

Fareed Haque

Miroslav Vitous

Steve Coleman

Paul McCandless

Jodie Christian

Matthew Garrison

Donald Harrison

Franz Jackson

Howard Levy

Tiger Okoshi

Dave Holland

Ari Brown

Bennie Powell

Alan Pasqua

Bob Sheppard

Darryl Jones

Gil Goldstein

Kenny Davern

William Russo

Rebecca Parris

Alan Eager

Pete Cosey

Phil Markowitz

Ron Blake

Bobby Enriquez

Henry Butler

Marvin Stamm

Patricia Barber

Sonny Fortune

Dr. Lonnie Smith

George Coleman

Eldee Young

Kahil El'Zabar

Famoudou Don Moye

Niels Lan Doky

Arild Andersen

Bendik Hofseth

Paolo Fresu

Richie Patterson

Carl Fontana

Brian Lynch

Curtis Fuller

Eddie Henderson

Benny Golson

Terrance Blanchard

Tierney Sutton

Mark Egan

Arthur Blythe

Hal Russell

Buster Williams

Fred Hopkins

Jeff Berlin

Chris Vadala

Ken Chaney

Lynn Seaton

Dr. Lou Fischer

John Campbell

Fred Hamilton

Bill Evans

Diane Schuur

Truck Parham

Ralph Moore

Eddie Calhoun

Hamid Drake

Delfayo Marsalis

Peter Appleyard

John LaBarbara

Eric Schneider

John Young

Javon Jackson

Junior Mance

David 'Fathead' Newman

Gerald Veasley

Leon Sash

Buddy Childers

Eddie Higgins

In the educational field, Paul has been a regular columnist for Drums & Drumming magazine and DRUM! magazine, and has written for and served on the advisory board of Drum Tracks magazine. He was the featured artist on the cover of the January 1995 issue of Modern Drummer magazine. Paul was also a contributor to Paul Berliner's critically acclaimed book Thinking In Jazz. He has conducted drum clinics around the country, at such prestigious teaching institutions as the University of Miami, North Texas State University, and the Drummers Collective; as well as giving seminars in Argentina, Italy, Germany, Israel, Greece, New Zealand, and at Musicians Institute in both London and Los Angeles. He also conducts master classes and teaches private lessons. In 1987, he released Fine Tuning Your Performance, an educational video for drummers. His second video (for Warner Bros. Publications) is entitled Paul Wertico's Drum Philosophy (formerly released by Rittor Music in Japan under the title Sound Work Of Drumming). From 1992 to 2008, he was a member of the wind & percussion faculty of Northwestern University, specializing in drum set. In 2002, he joined the jazz faculty of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where in 2007, he was appointed Interim Head of Jazz, and in 2008, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Jazz and Head of Jazz Studies and he became a tenured Associate Professor of Jazz in 2014. Paul was one of the featured clinicians at PASIC '94, PASIC '99, PASIC '02, and PASIC '18 (Percussive Arts Society International Convention); he performed with Kurt Elling and Trio New at the 1996 IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) convention, and he conducted a drum seminar at the 1997 IAJE International Conference. Paul was also one of the featured performers at the Modern Drummer Drum Festival '97. In 2010, the Cape Breton International Drum Festival in Canada awarded him with a “Life Time Achievement Award” for his “Major Contribution To The World Of Drumming & Education”, and he also received the 2010 Montréal Drum Fest’s coveted career recognition award.

Paul has also been involved with musical product development. He was a member of the D'Addario Musician's Advisory Board which assisted in developing and testing new types of Evans drumheads and coatings. He was one of a select few drummers chosen to sample, review, and critique the new "Traditional" line (Paul's suggestion for the line's name) of cymbals for Paiste. Paul has three "Signature" products made by ProMark: his drumstick, the "Paul Wertico model - TX808W"; and two new innovations in sound called "Tubz" and "KidzTubz". In addition, Slug Percussion Products is now manufacturing a Paul Wertico Signature Drum Tuning Key-Clip.

In 1993, Paul released his first solo CD entitled The Yin And The Yout featuring original compositions and the playing of Bob Mintzer, Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Mino Cilelu, Victor Bailey, Michael Bearden, Howard Levy, David Mann, Brian Keane, and Paul's wife Barbara Unger-Wertico. The disc was released in Japan on Canyon International Records, in Europe on veraBra Records, and in the U.S. on Intuition Records, and has received excellent reviews worldwide; it was awarded four stars from DownBeat magazine and was voted one of the top 10 albums of 1993 by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In 1998, his second solo release, a live CD of the The Paul Wertico Trio entitled Live In Warsaw!, came out on Igmod Records. It features John Moulder on guitar, Eric Hochberg on bass and Paul on drums. It was awarded four and a half stars by Down Beat magazine.

Paul next two CDs, Don't Be Scared Anymore, released in 2000 on Premonition Records, and StereoNucleosis, released in 2004 on A400 Music Group, received remarkable critical acclaim, including LA Weekly review: "One might wish that Wertico would step out more; 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." and the All Music Guide wrote: "Wertico and his players have done something wonderful and rare: they've actually created something not only different, but also truly new. In the words of Henry James, "the thing that cannot be repeated" is the true definition of art."

Paul's 2006 CD Another Side is on the Naim Label and has been described as "a brilliant collaborative effort between these three uniquely talented musicians."

In 2007, Brian Peters and Paul released their CD Ampersand, which called "Simply a musical masterpiece."

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 4 1/2 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."

Paul Wertico's Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance band also released a Live In Concert DVD, entitled Live From Space. In a review, the Chicago Examiner wrote “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.”

Paul has also released these other co-op CDs:

Paul has also recorded 10 CDs and 2 DVDs as a member of the legendary Eastern European rock band SBB.

Some of 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 & CD by Wertico Cain & Gray entitled Sound Portraits (winner of "Best Live Performance Album" in the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards (2014); Wertico Cain & Gray’s second CD entitled Out in SPACE; Wertico Cain & Gray's second DVD & third CD entitled Organic Architecture; Wertico Cain & Gray's fourth CD & video release entitled Realization (nominated for "Best Live Performance Album" and "Best Long Form Video" in the 15th Annual Independent Music Awards (2016); Wertico Cain & Gray's fifth CD entitled Short Cuts – 40 Improvisations; Wertico Cain & Gray's sixth CD entitled AfterLive; Wertico Cain & Gray's seventh CD & downloadable video release entitled Without Compromise; and Wertico Cain & Gray's eighth CD entitled Windows Of Time; a CD entitled Dynamics in Meditation by the Gianmarco Scaglia & Paul Wertico Quartet; The Paul Wertico/John Helliwell Project has two releases: a CD entitled The Bari Sessions and a 2-CD set entitled Live Under Italian Skies; and the Chicago-based Paul Wertico Trio (featuring guitarist John Moulder & bassist Eric Hochberg) released a CD (celebrating the trio’s 25th anniversary) entitled First Date, and the Italy-based Paul Wertico Trio (featuring pianist Fabrizio Mocata & bassist Gianmarco Scaglia) also released a CD entitled Letter from Rome. Paul's latest CD is entitled Paul Wertico's Drums Without Boundaries and it received a four-star rating in DownBeat.


ProMark is now manufacturing the following Paul Wertico "Signature" product called Tubz.

Designed by Paul Wertico. Use them on drumset, congas, timbales, bongos, cymbals, vibes, marimba, tympani, marching drums, or any other percussion instrument. Create fresh, new sounds unlike anything you've heard before! These Tubz are very cool! Extremely durable, high-impact, semi-flexible plastic. 16 1/2" in length. 1 1/4" in diameter.

Tubz Reviews

Slug Percussion Products is now manufacturing a Paul Wertico Signature Drum Tuning Key-Clip.


The Paul Wertico Signature Drum Tuning Key-Clip is always where you need it! Clips to 7/8" to 1 1/8" tubular hardware. Works with all standard .218" drum tension rods. Easy to hold and use for fast tuning and drum head changes. Made of Super tough glass filled Nylon. Strong enough to tune drums, and does not damage hardware.

More Equipment Information:



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