Emmy Nominated Dr. Um

May 12, 2017

Back in December, I wrote a blog about a Motown concert I attended and a jazz concert by Dr. Peter Erskine that I was going to attend at the blue whale jazz club in LA. Well, I did attend it! And it was magnificent. And I’m writing about the concert now as a follow-up. Dr. Erskine is a renowned Jazz drummer and his album was nominated for the Emmy Awards this year! In addition, he is a USC Percussion professor at the Thornton School of Music.

My friend and I went to the jazz club and it was smaller than we expected. However, jazz clubs tend to be an intimate venue. The cover charge was only $15 to attend. The ceiling was beautiful – it had a wonderful quotation by Rumi, which unfortunately I don’t remember now since I went to the concert in December. What I do remember is how magical and intense and fun the music was. Dr. Erskine performed with his band but I liked that the drumset was at the front of the stage instead of at the back like it usually is. Of course, drummers are the backbone of the band so it makes sense that they are at the back but it was wonderful to clearly watch Dr. Erskine play the drums.

As a past student (beginner and intermediate drumming classes for non-majors) of Prof. Erskine, I was excited to see my professor not just as a teacher but as an artist in his element. It was the first time I had seen him as a drummer. It goes without saying that he was fantastic (duh!). There were times that I recognized what he was doing on the drums from my classes and that made me happy that I had truly learned something. For example, I knew when he played triplets on the ride cymbal that he was giving a swing-y feel to the music. When he used the metal brushes, he was softening the beat for a quieter mood. I recognized some of the simple drumming patterns in his intricate and complex fills. I tried to keep time in my head (one-e-and-uh, two-e-and-uh…) but I often got lost in the music. They played songs from a recent album (pictured on the left) and from newer albums. I loved the reflective and unique songs Sage Hands and Speechless, and the faster, fun ones like Hawaii Bathing Suit.

The best part of the jazz concert was undoubtedly Dr. Erskine’s drum solo. The stamina, speed, and beauty of the solo was unparalleled. I only recorded part of it in the video below. The other best part was when I went to say hi after the concert and Prof. Erskine actually remembered me! It had been 4 years since I last took a drumming class. He always encourages and inspires all his students, whether you’re a jazz performance major or a wannabe dabbler like me. If you’re lucky, you can take a drumming class at USC and maybe meet him at one of his many student workshops.

Published on May 12th, 2017

Last updated on January 20th, 2021