Influenced as much by Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes or Art Blakey as by Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell or Keith Moon, Paul Wertico is an all-around drummer who built his reputation as a colorist with Pat Metheny. Although Wertico learned to play the snare drum in grade school, he is self-taught on the drum kit.
By age 15, he was already playing professionally with various rock and jazz bands and later his role as a star soloist with the Cary-Grove High School Band led to a music scholarship. In the early "70s, he left college and soon became a fixture of the Chicago music scene, playing and recording with a multitude of diverse artists including jazz saxophonist Joe Daley, ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner, blues-rock vocalist/guitarist Ellen McIlwaine, folk singer Terry Callier and the fusion-based imon & Bard Group. Always active in various realms of creative music, he most notably started two cooperative bands: Earwax Control with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Czech and keyboardist Gordon James, and Spontaneous Composition with multi-reed player Rich Corpolongo and bassist Doug Lofstrom. In 1983, Wertico replaced Danny Gottlieb in the Pat Metheny Group.
A long and fruitful collaboration, including ten recordings, seven Grammy Awards and several gold records, ensued. Wertico left the group in 2001. During his tenure with the guitarist, he nurtured several of his own projects that would end up gaining exposure in the ‘90s. He also continued recording with many other artists including new age music pioneer Paul Winter, "word jazz" creator Ken Nordine, rock-fusion violinist Jerry Goodman and jazz vocalist Kurt Elling. In 1993, he recorded his first disc as a leader, The Yin And The Yout, featuring a legion of guest stars. Later, he went on to form the highly democratic Union Trio with pianist Laurence Hobgood and bassist Brian Torff, as well as releasing a drum duo recording with fellow percussionist Gregg Bendian.
He also led various other combos, most notably the Paul Wertico Trio, a band that helped redefine fusion and includes guitarist John Moulder and bassist Eric Hochberg. Soon after leaving Metheny, Wertico joined a trio led by another prominent guitarist, Larry Coryell, and also became a member of the legendary Eastern European rock band, SBB. In parallel to his career as a musician, Paul Wertico has also remained quite active as a producer and an educator and clinician, a field he has always had a passion for.