Saturday, March 14, 2009

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Three views of Peter Erskine

This week, we've a little video taste of the work of drummer Peter Erskine, who will be in St. Louis April 16-18 as a guest artist for the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

Erskine has had a long and varied career, starting in the mid-1970s as a big band drummer with Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson, moving into fusion as a member of Weather Report and Steps Ahead, and continuing into the present day with a busy and eclectic schedule of gigs as a sideman, leader and clinician.

These days, Erskine plays with all sorts of musicians in all sorts of ensembles, from the small combo of singer/pianist Diana Krall to saxophonist Bob Mintzer's big band to the backup bands of pop artists such as Queen Latifah and Linda Ronstadt. He's also active in jazz education, and that makes him a good fit for the GSLJF, which involves its guest artists in workshops and clinics with local student musicians.

There are many Erskine video clips online, showing him playing with many different artists in many different styles. Here, the better to get a closeup look at the drummer himself, we've got a couple of videos of Erskine playing alone, and another featuring him in a small group setting.

The first clip up above shows Erskine playing a more-or-less free form drum solo. It was recorded in 2004 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). The second video, down below, features the drummer in a trio with guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist Marc Johnson, recorded at NYC's Village Vanguard. Lastly, the third clip provides a glimpse of Erskine the teacher, as he demonstrates a New Orleans-style groove and solo.

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