#166 – A Master of Drumming Insanity and a Genius of the Sticks


An Impressionist Painter, An Inspired Madman, A Restless Innovator, A True Legend of Jazz Drums, A Master of Drumming Insanity, and a Genius of the Sticks. These are some of the words that describe Grammy Award-winning drummer Paul Wertico.

Hailed in the press as “One of the most versatile and musical drummers in music today,” Paul Wertico was a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 to 2001. During that time, he won seven Grammy Awards (three for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, three for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance, and one for Best Rock Instrumental Performance), won numerous magazine polls, received several gold records, and played drums & percussion on David Bowie’s hit recording (with the Pat Metheny Group), “This Is Not America.”

He has played with countless artists and has performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries. Paul has also played drums and percussion on hundreds of recordings, including Paul Winter’s Grammy-nominated release, Earth: Voices of a Planet, and four vocalist Kurt Elling’s Grammy-nominated releases. He also hosted his own weekly radio show, Paul Wertico’s Wild World of Jazz, from 2010 to 2012.

Paul is also extremely active in the field of education. In addition to teaching drums privately for over 45 years, Paul is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Before becoming a full-time faculty member at CCPA, he served on the wind & percussion faculty of Northwestern University for 16 years. For over four decades, he’s conducted drum masterclasses, clinics, and workshops worldwide and has written educational articles for numerous magazines. He also serves on the Advisory Board and the Pro-Panel of Modern Drummer magazine, the Education Committee of the Jazz Institute of Chicago. In addition, he served five terms on the Board of Governors of The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter.

In 2004, Paul was a Chicago Tribune“Chicagoan of the Year.” In 2010, the Cape Breton International Drum Festival honored him with a “Life Time Achievement Award” for his “Major Contribution To The World Of Drumming & Education.” That year, he was also a recipient of the Montréal Drum Fest’s “Lifetime Achievement 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. He’s also the inventor of his signature product, TUBZ, made by Promark, who also makes the “Paul Wertico Signature Drum Stick.”

Paul’s recordings have all received great critical praise as a solo recording artist, and DownBeatmagazine listed Paul’s CD, Impressions of a City, as one of its “Best CDs of 2010.” In addition, his DVD, Paul Wertico’s Drum Philosophy, was named “One of the best drum videos of the last 25 years” by Modern Drummer magazine. LA Weekly even wrote, “His recent records, such as the 2000s Don’t Be Scared Anymore and the new StereoNucleosis, are stunning examples of the electronic, rhythmic and intellectual directions jazz could be going.”

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 (which won “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’sfourth CD & downloadable video release entitled Realization (which was nominated for “Best Live Performance Album” and “Best Long Form Video” in the 15th Annual Independent Music Awards (2016); Wertico Cain & Gray’sfifth CD entitled Short Cuts – 40 Improvisations; Wertico Cain & Gray’ssixth CD entitled AfterLive; Wertico Cain & Gray’sseventh CD & downloadable video release entitled Without Compromise; a CD entitled Dynamics in Meditationby the Gianmarco Scaglia & Paul Wertico Quartet; and a 2-CD set entitled Live Under Italian Skiesby the Paul Wertico/John Helliwell Project. In addition, the Paul Wertico Trio also released a new CD (celebrating the trio’s 25thanniversary) entitled the First Date.

In the international press, Paul’s drumming has also been compared to that of an “Impressionist painter.” He has also been called “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.”

Last but not least, Paul’s groundbreaking drum instructional book TURN THE BEAT AROUND(A Drummer’s Guide to Playing “Backbeats” on 1 & 3) was published by Alfred Music in 2017.

Paul’s official website is: paulwertico.com

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  • The music provided for this episode is from:
  • Artist: Laurie Akers and Barbara Wertico
  • Song: “Love Can Conquer Hate”
  • Music By: Barbara Wertico
  • Lyrics By: Rabbi Peter Knobel and Barbara Wertico
  • The song can be found on YouTube at: