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Daniel Szabo: Visionary

Read "Visionary" reviewed by Jim Worsley

It takes maybe ten full seconds to be intrigued by Visionary. Pianist, composer, and arranger Daniel Szabo presents a kaleidoscope view of futures integrating a woodwind sextet, string quartet, and a jazz rhythmic section. There is no meeting somewhere in the middle to be found here. Instead, they sublimely merge as an ensemble for an intriguing ride. The subtle nuances of chamber music joined with jazz sensibilities creates a pallet of new colors placed gracefully just in, and ...

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Peter Erskine New Trio: In Praise of Shadows

Read "In Praise of Shadows" reviewed by Dave Wayne

Expecting the delicately brooding pastel hues of his piano trio recordings for ECM Records, my socks were pleasantly knocked off from the git-go by Peter Erskine's New Trio. In Praise of Shadows opens with a slyly sweet, reggae-infused rendition of “Sukiyaki," a Japanese folk tune that became a surprise novelty hit for Kyu Sakamoto back in 1963. Erskine's version, featuring guest Judd Miller on electronic whistling, hints at the deeper meaning of the song, whose title--literally translated--means “I Look Up ...

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Bob Mintzer: All L.A. Band

Read "All L.A. Band" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Even though saxophonist Bob Mintzer's name rests alone atop the marquee, the All L.A. Band is actually a mutual collaboration with acclaimed drummer Peter Erskine, one of Mintzer's colleagues in the Jazz Studies department at the University of Southern California. Besides occupying the drum chair, Erskine produced the album, while Mintzer composed and arranged its ten handsome themes. Among the musical styles closest to Mintzer's heart are Afro-Cuban and funk, and there is plenty of both on ...

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Peter Erskine: Dr. Um

Read "Dr. Um" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

It would appear that this project has awakened the Peter Erskine of yore, the drummer who became legend while cresting the waves of fusion with Weather Report and Steps Ahead. In recent years Erskine's drumming has been spare, elegant, open, and, in enough instances, lightly swinging. If one word would come to mind to describe that playing, it would be “tasteful." But does that automatically mean that joining forces with some plugged-in players and laying down some ...

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Peter Erskine / Bob Mintzer / Darek Oles / Alan Pasqua: Standards 2, Movie Music

Read "Standards 2, Movie Music" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Standards hold a particular fascination for drummer Peter Erskine, as initiated through his Grammy-nominated Standards(Fuzzy Music, 2008). Unlike that first album--comprised primarily of old jazz standards--Standards 2, Movie Music focuses on songs that are considered standards from the realm of Hollywood movies. Featuring music from Gone With The Wind (1939), considered by many to be one of the best movies ever made, to the main theme from Rosemary's Baby (1968), this unusual collection of songs, by necessity, has to leave ...

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Peter Erskine / Bob Mintzer / Derek Oles / Alan Pasqua: Standards 2, Movie Music

Read "Standards 2, Movie Music" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

While the songs featured on Standards 2, Movie Music were given an initial audience through the medium of film, some of them have led a fruitful existence beyond the borders of the silver screen. Some melodies--like Tara's Theme," from 1939's Gone With The Wind--will always be associated with their point of origin, but much of Cole Porter's catalog, including the two inclusions on this album ("Night And Day" and “I Concentrate On You"), is more familiar to current audiences than ...

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Peter Erskine / Bob Mintzer / Darek Oles / Alan Pasqua: Standards 2, Movie Music

Read "Standards 2, Movie Music" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Composers of movie soundtracks have crafted some of the most enduring tunes for jazz treatment. Names like Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Krzysztof Komeda, and Ennio Maricone show up in the credits of innumerable albums, with tunes that shape moods and atmospheres, and supply jazz artists with engaging melodies galore.Drummer Peter Erskine has collected a crack quartet which has, in turn, collected ten tunes from various movie soundtracks for a near perfect jazz outing, one with that swings with ...

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Peter Erskine / Bob Mintzer / Darek Oles / Alan Pasqua: Standards 2, Movie Music

Read "Standards 2, Movie Music" reviewed by John Kelman

Sometimes, the most powerful statements are those delivered directly: gentle, yet forceful in their complete commitment, and without the trappings of excess.With the sudden, unexpected passing in 2008 of Dave Carpenter--the talented and busy West Coast bassist who had played with everyone from Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman to Scott Henderson, Allan Holdsworth and Lee Ritenour--drummer Peter Erskine and pianist Alan Pasqua had to find a new bassist for their longstanding trio, last heard on Standards ...

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The Trio (Peter Erskine / Chuck Berghofer / Terry Trotter): Live @ Charlie O's

Read "Live @ Charlie O's" reviewed by John Kelman

Three Los Angeles session men with a massive collective résumé as sidemen but, with the exception of one--drummer Peter Erskine--diminutive discographies as leaders; one set of largely iconic standards; and one live set from a club where the players, called simply “The Trio," perform on a regular basis. Live at Charlie O's is a loving tribute to two men: Charlie Ottaviano the club's founder, who sadly passed away in 2008, at the age of 66; and Edmond Demirdjian, a Bulgarian ...

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Tim Hagans: The Avatar Sessions: The Music of Tim Hagans

Read "The Avatar Sessions: The Music of Tim Hagans" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Over the past three-and-a-half decades, trumpeter Tim Hagans has worked with the most accomplished big bands in the world. Time spent with Stan Kenton, Thad Jones, Maria Schneider and Bob Mintzer has often placed him at the epicenter of large group creativity. These associations, along with many others, have helped him flesh out his own unique compositional style. The Avatar Session is a showcase for this writing, which encompasses everything from lush, hazy ballads and bebop tributes to funky, riff ...

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Tim Hagans: The Avatar Session: The Music of Tim Hagans

Read "The Avatar Session: The Music of Tim Hagans" reviewed by John Kelman

He's been its musical director since 1996, but since 2005 trumpeter Tim Hagans' work with the Swedish Norbotten Big Band has run in a parallel stream to his more intimate, small ensemble work on the German Pirouet label, most recently on Alone Together (2008). As good as Worth the Wait (Fuzzy Music, 2008) was, The Avatar Sessions: The Music of Tim Hagans--focusing exclusively, as it does, on the trumpeter's music--is an even stronger follow-up.

Once again, ...

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The Trio: Live @ Charlie O's

Read "Live @ Charlie O's" reviewed by Martin Gladu

There are a myriad of different opportunities for in-demand drummer Peter Erskine to invest himself in, both as a musician and as an entrepreneur. Why then would he elect to bivouac at a local bar to play standards? Well, it may have something to do with the fact that that's what jazz is; jamming on show tunes in venues where you can just drop in any night of the week and listen to or make music for a motley crew.