Peter Erskine began playing the drums at the age of four, and has been at the forefront of world-class jazz ensembles for thirty-five years. His first major professional work was with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, which he joined in 1972. After a three year stint with Kenton and a two year stay with Maynard Ferguson, he joined Weather Report in 1978. The excellence of the partnership between Erskine and bassist Jaco Pastorius was an integral part of that group’s success.
Following his 4 years in Weather Report (having recorded five albums with them including the Grammy Award winning “8:30”), he began to play with Mike Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Don Grolnick and Eddie Gomez in the group Steps Ahead . His other touring and recording credits (500 albums & film scores) include Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Burton & Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Kurt Elling, Sadao Watanabe, Eliane Elias, Mike Stern, Miroslav Vitous and Jan Garbarek; the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern, the ASKO, Avanti, Remix & Absolute Ensembles; “Bass Desires ” (with John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Marc Johnson), the John Abercrombie Trio, the Kenny Wheeler Quintet & Big Band , the Yellowjackets and the Bob Mintzer Big Band as well as his own groups, including trios with John Taylor, Palle Danielsson, Rita Marcotulli, and his current bands with guitarist Nguyen Le and bassist Michel Benita (“Trio E_L_B”), as well as a trio he shares with pianist Alan Pasqua.
Peter’s solo albums include: “Peter Erskine”, “Transition”, “Motion Poet”, “Sweet Soul”, “Big Theatre”, and his ECM recordings You Never Know, “Time Being”, “As It Is” and “Juni” as well as “History of the DRUM”, “Behind Closed Doors,” “Side Man Blue,” on his own label FUZZY MUSIC. Peter is the co-leader of several albums, including “Prism” with Bill Dobbins and the WDR Big Band, “Cologne” with Bill Dobbins and John Goldsby, and “Dream Flight” with Nguyen Le and Michel Benita. His latest playing ventures include The Lounge Art Ensemble; that group’s most recent CD is titled “Music for Moderns ” and a piano trio with Alan Pasqua and Dave Carpenter; their double CD “Peter Erskine & Alan Pasqua with David Carpenter – Live at Rocco” received rave reviews from the press and fans, and have their last 2 CDs, “Badlands” and the Grammy-nominated “Standards.” He won his second Grammy Award for his work on the Randy & Michael Brecker album “Some Skunk Funk” (with Vince Mendoza and the WDR Big Band). His latest CD is titled “Worth The Wait,” recorded with trumpeter Tim Hagans and the Norrbotten Big Band (Sweden).
Besides touring and recording, Peter is now pursuing new avenues in his career by composing for theatre, dance, film and television. He has completed musical scores for Shakespeare’s King Richard II and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the latter being honored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with the award for the “Best Original Musical Score”. His music for The American Conservatory Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night was awarded by the Bay Area Drama Critics’ Circle as the “Best Dramatic Score”. Other works for this medium are Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, the dance piece “History of the Drum” (written for the Kokuma Dance Company of Birmingham, England), “The Yield of the Long Bond” and “Honor” for LA’s “Matrix Theatre,” and the score for the critically-acclaimed Pasadena Playhouse production of “Side Man” He has written for animation, and composed the music for the Simon & Schuster books-on-audio series “Alien Voices” starring Leonard Nimoy and John deLancie of Star Trek fame. Peter was Composer-in-Residence at the famed Hilliard Ensemble’s choral workshop in Germany during the summer of 2000, and received a BBC commission to compose his suite “Music for Brass and Percussion.” Additional commissions include a piece for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and marimba soloist Colin Currie, plus a percussion ensemble piece written in memory of Nexus co-founder John Wyre (“A Bird Sings”).
Erskine is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and studied percussion with George Gaber at Indiana University. His own pedagogical efforts include 4 instructional videos as well as 8 books, including “Drumset Essentials, Vols. 1, 2 & 3 ” (a trilogy of instructional methods), plus the “Erskine Method” book and DVD, “Essential Drum Fills” and “Time Awareness for All Musicians” (published by Alfred Music Publishing). His other books include “Drum Concepts & Techniques” and “The Drum Perspective”, both published by the Hal Leonard Corp. Peter conducts clinics, classes and seminars world-wide. Peter the Director of Drumset Studies at USC Thornton School of Music, and is the Jazz Drumming Consultant to the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has won the Modern Drummer Magazine Readers’ Poll in the Jazz Drummer category 10 times, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music. Peter was the soloist along with Evelyn Glennie at the world premiere of a new Double Concerto for Percussion titled “Fractured Lines,” composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, in London at the Proms in July 2000 with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. That work was recorded for the Chandos label.
Peter is 54 years old, and makes his home in Southern California.