Peter Erskine (2016)

Peter Erskine, born on June 5, 1954 in Somers Point, New Jersey, is an American jazz drummer, composer, author and educator, best known for appearing on over 600 albums and film scores, two Grammy Awards, more than fifty albums released under his own name or as co-leader, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee School of Music (1992).

Peter first started playing the drums at the age of four. He graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied at Indiana University under George Gaber. In 1972 Peter commenced his pro career playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Four years later, he joined Maynard Ferguson before working with Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report and moving to Los Angeles. Peter recorded five albums with the band and won his first Grammy Award with their album 8.30. During this time in LA, he also worked with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Farrell and George Cables. Peter then moved to New York City where he worked for five years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Eddie Gomez and Eliane Elias in Steps Ahead, John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Marc Johnson in the legendary group Bass Desires, the John Abercrombie Trio plus Bob Mintzer’s Big Band.

Throughout his music career Erskine has performed and/or recorded with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer Big Band, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, Steps Ahead, Joni Mitchell, Eliane Elias, Vince Mendoza, Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Kenny Wheeler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Brecker Brothers, The Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, John Scofield, Queen Latifah, Linda Ronstadt, Jan Garbarek, Kenny Wheeler, Palle Danielsson, John Taylor, Kate Bush, Nguyen Lê, Rita Marcotulli, the Norrbotten Big Band in Sweden and Sadao Watanabe in Japan. Peter won his second Grammy Award as the drummer of the WDR big band in Köln along with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Vince Mendoza and others for the Some Skunk Funk album. In the classical arena, Erskine has appeared as a soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Frankfurt Radio, Scottish Chamber, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony, Oslo and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. He premièred the double percussion concerto Fractured Lines, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, at the BBC Proms with Andrew Davis conducting, and has collaborated frequently with Sir Simon Rattle. He also premiered the Turnage opera “Anna Nicole” at the Royal Opera House in London. Turnage has composed a solo concerto for Peter titled Erskine, which received its world premiere in Bonn, Germany in 2013, with the US premiere scheduled for September 2014 at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Peter has been voted Best Jazz Drummer of the Year ten times by the readers of Modern Drummer magazine.

In 2013, Erskine released No Beethoven, an autobiography and chronicle of his time with the legendary band, Weather Report.

In 2016, Peter Erskine released a new self-produced CD, Dr. Um.

Having lived in Los Angeles since 1987, Peter stays busy with such artists as Alan Pasqua, Bob Sheppard and Bob Mintzer as well as playing in various studios. Films where Peter’s drumming can be heard include Memoirs of a Geisha, the new Pink Panther films and all three of the Austin Powers movies, plus the title music of the Steven Spielberg/John Williams collaboration The Adventures of Tintin. As an educator Peter is currently the Professor of Practice and Director of Drumset Studies at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California.