Peter Erskine - Dr. Um and The Lost Pages

In recent years, Peter Erskine feels that he has strayed from his true love — fusion and R&B drumming. Dr. Um, which Erskine self-produced, marks his return to “the kind of drumming I was best-known for in my youth and during my years with Weather Report and Steps Ahead.” He elaborates: “I’d traveled my ‘anti-drumming’ path of recent years about as far as I could take it—exquisite music where ‘less’ was so much ‘more’—the minimalism of my ECM and Fuzzy Music trio recording years had become my calling card. So the chance to play this way again feels very fresh and new to me. It’s being able to live the ‘if I knew then what I know now’ dream and make some really cool music at the same time.”

Peter Erskine is Dr. Um. Indeed, Dr. Um—the title and a very cool play on words—feels like a return, yet at the same time there’s nothing retro about it. Recorded and mixed by Talley Sherwood at Tritone Recording Glendale, California, the collection—10 songs and two spoken-word pieces—takes the classic fusion sound into the 21st century. The original concept for the album, however, stretches further back.

"Jack Fletcher is my oldest and closest friend," says Erskine. Fletcher, a theater director who does voice directing for animation and film, wrote the liner notes for Dr. Um. "Jack envisioned an evening of music and lights and sets with a musical host, an alter ego who might allow me to discover my true musical and theatrical roots. I had no aim to take such a production on the road as it seemed so ambitious, and besides, I was learning how to play less and less, so did I really want to put a spotlight on all of that? ‘Dr. Um’ began to stand for the ephemeral ‘me’ that was out of reach. Would I ever step into that outfit? 2015 became the year in which to do it. I knew that I finally wanted to give voice to Dr. Um."

I feel inspired, like a kid, only one who’s got something to say.