Hailed in the press as “One of the most versatile and musical drummers in music today”, Paul Wertico was born on January 5, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois. At age 12, he learned how to read music and play drums and percussion instruments in grade school. At age 14, he got his first drum set and taught himself how to play it. By age 15, he was already playing professionally with various rock and jazz bands. By the early '70s, he was a fixture of the Chicago music scene, playing and recording with a multitude of diverse artists including legendary jazz saxophonist Joe Daley, ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner, blues-rock vocalist/guitarist Ellen McIlwaine, rock singer Adrian Smith, folk singer Terry Callier, ECM-influenced guitarist Ross Traut, the fusion-based Simon & Bard Group, and a whole list of others. Always active in various realms of creative and avant-garde 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 joined the Pat Metheny Group, starting a long and fruitful collaboration that continued for 18 years, resulting in eight recordings, several gold records, and the winning of seven Grammy Awards (three for “Best Jazz Fusion Performance,” three for “Best Contemporary Jazz Performance,” and one for “Best Rock Instrumental Performance”), as well as numerous magazine polls. In addition to the PMG recordings, he played on the Group's videos: More Travels, We Live Here - Live In Japan 1995 and Imaginary Day, as well as on Pat Metheny's Grammy winning solo 1992 project Secret Story and Pat Metheny's Secret Story - LIVE video. Wertico also played with Pat on the score and soundtrack for the movie The Falcon And The Snowman, which included the international hit song "This Is Not America" featuring David Bowie, and on the score to the movie Twice In A Lifetime. In February 1986, Wertico 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 Metheny's Special Quartet with performances in California, Japan, and Hong Kong. During most of 1993, he and his wife, Barbara Unger-Wertico, toured together as members of Pat's Secret Story band, performing in 18 countries around the world. Wertico left the PMG in 2001.
Wertico has played with countless jazz, rock, funk, R&B, blues, gospel, fusion and ethnic musicians, and was a member of both the Larry Coryell Trio and the Jeff Berlin Trio. He was also a member of the legendary Eastern European rock band, SBB, for seven years (2000-2007), as well as the Polish all-star jazz-fusion group, The Colors. When he is not touring, he divides his time between studio work, producing, session playing, and leading his own groups. In reviews, his playing has been compared to that of an “Impressionist painter,” while Wertico has also been described as “an inspired madman,” “a restless innovator,” “a true legend of jazz drums,” “a master of drumming insanity,” “a genius of the sticks,” and a recent review stated “Wertico simply oozes musicality.” In 2004, Wertico was honored as a Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, and he has also been honored by both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times with numerous Album of the Year nods.