space drummer

You Never Know (ECM)
Peter Erskine

By John Goodin

Peter Erskine has come up with a beautiful piano trio record that spotlights his good taste as a leader over his world-class chops at the drums. You Never Know is a classic ECM-sounding date featuring pianist John Taylor and bassist Palle Danielsson that could easily have been recorded in the mid-Seventies.

Erskine is often thought of as a powerhouse drummer (check out his work with Weather Report) but here, less is more. The tunes are often formal and delicate and the trio improvises with them in a thoughtful, relaxed way. The grooves are mostly subtle, yet Erskine and Danielsson never let one fade. Erskine says, "The spaces between the notes became as important as the notes being played."

John Taylor wrote four of the tunes ("New Old Age" being especially lovely), Vince Mendoza three and Cole Porter and the leader one each. Erskine's "On the Lake" is a simple but rich theme that is beautifully developed by the trio. If you are looking for an album of dynamite drum solos, you can pass on this. If, however, you are searching for a recording of excellent pieces performed in the tradition of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, You Never Know is the place to shop.

See Keith Clement's review of the Johnnie Johnson & the Kentucky HeadHunters album in his column on page 9.