On Call: Peter Erskine & The Dr. Um Band (Fuzzy Music)
Erskine’s quartet luxuriates in excitement that recalls and updates his achievements as Weather Report’s keystone drummer. Later when he was with Steps Ahead, that group further contributed to electronica as a legitimate jazz movement. The band features saxophonist Bob Sheppard, John Beasley playing keyboards, and the ebullient electric bassist Benjamin Shepherd. As it has for decades, Erskine’s drumming incorporates rhythmic subtlety and explosiveness in a balance that makes him in many respects the prototype fusion drummer. Highlights include humor and near-abandon as Erskine stimulates irresistible energy from Sheppard on tenor sax and Shepherd on bass in their solos on “Hawaii Bathing Suit” from a live date recorded in Italy. The tenderness of Sheppard’s tenor work is memorable in Henry Mancini’s “Dreamsville.” For sheer enjoyment, the live set edges out—just barely—the first disc, recorded in a US studio date.