Album Reviews

Peter Erskine Trio

As It Was

Artist:     Peter Erskine Trio

Album:     As It Was

Label:     ECM

Release Date:     07/22/2016


Safe to say that as far as drummer-led piano trios go, drummer Erskine (Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Weather Report, John Ambercombie) bassist Danielsson (Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett) and pianist Taylor (Kenny Wheeler, Azimuth, Tony Levin) set the tone for piano trios through the ’90s.

As the latest entry into ECM’s acclaimed Old and New Masters Series, As It Was offers a worthy Four Disc re-evaluation of the harmonic nuance and subtle interplay this trio brought to the classic jazz setting. It may have been Danielsson who played stints with Jarrett and Evans, thus honing his unique and flawless instrumental dance, but it is Taylor whose improv and compositional skills are most deeply informed by the two masters. Breathy, lyrical, picturesque… take your pick. They all define the late Taylor’s graceful, indelible playing. From the indigo speculation of “New Old Age” that opens You Never Know (1993) through the dense poetics of “Ambleside” (Time Being, 1994) “Glebe Ascending,” “Woodcocks” (As It Is, 1996) and “Fable” (Juni, 1999) Taylor weaves his impressionistic art. Erskine, who after his stay within the zenith of Weather Report, began, as he calls it, his anti-drumming period, lays back with open embellishment and airy textures, most reminiscent of Jack DeJohnette. Three of his titles, the mist like “On The Lake,” the effortless, “For The Time Being,” and “The Lady In The Lake” thrive in this most intimate setting. A hugely rewarding listen.

– Mike Jurkovic

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