Peter Erskine, is Dr. Um (Fuzzy Music)
Any marriage depends on how the partners blend. Drummer Peter Erskine helped Weather Report and Steps Ahead achieve two of the most successful of all efforts to fuse jazz with other elements. In Dr. Um (get it?), he does it again, with collaborators who share his sense of music as a broad canvas for intermingling colors. The sources include two pieces by master Weather Report painter Joe Zawinul, one of Gustav Mahler’s deeply felt songs, Gary McFarland’s “Sage Hands,” a Vince Mendoza number and originals by Erskine and keyboardist John Beasely, the album’s co-producers. Beasely, tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard, and guitarists Jeff Parker and Larry Koonse solo impressively. The powerful electric bass is by Janek Gwizdala. Underneath it all, Erskine gives perfect buoyancy to every mood. His solo on “Northern Cross” is riveting for its subtlety.