Wow! Talk about a throwback to the glory of the '70s jazz-fusion scene as well as the more melodic & accessible '80s jazz renaissance...you get both and more with this latest 2CD set from former Weather Report drum legend Peter Erskine and his Dr. Um Band. Comprised of Erskine, sax player Bob Sheppard, keyboard player John Beasley, and bassist Benjamin Shepherd, all of whom have made a name for themselves on the jazz circuit over the years, the Dr. Um Band play serious music for serious music lovers, filled with chops of doom, melodies that never quit, and tasty solos, these guys channel vintage Weather Report, Chick Corea's Elektric Band, The Rippingtons, and a vocal-less Steely Dan for a sound that's instantly appealing and musically challenging.
Disc 1 features the full studio album, and kicks off with the atmospheric "For the Time Being", Beasley's airy electric piano fluttering over the top of Shepherd's elastic bass lines, tricky drum fills from the leader, and Sheppard's distant sax flourishes. This tune just screams 1975. Funk and loose jazz combine for the groove laden "Might As Well Be", and Beasley's gorgeous piano melodies come out for "If So Then", accompanied by Erskine's tight drum rhythms and more of Shepherd's wonderful bass lines...this guys is a serious player. Sheppard also lets loose with a soaring sax solo to add another kick ass element to this already excellent composition. "Uncle Don" is a more pop oriented affair, but with a great groove, and "Silver Linings" lets loose with some breezy sax and synth solos, though Shepherd doesn't want to be left out in the cold, so look for another effortless excursion from him as well. He's just an incredible bassist folks. Closer "Two Paths" tosses in some more '70s styled jazz-funk, complete with groove laden rhythms, bass, synth, and sax solos, Erskine locked in tight as he takes the band out for a furious finish.
The live tracks on Disc 2 were recorded from the bands Italian 2017 tour, and show the musicians in fine form, even more formidable on stage than in the studio. "Hipnotherapy" brings plenty of funk, Beasley delivering some mighty fine Hammond organ tones over Shepherd's popping bass lines, which deserve equal credit. Sheppard's screaming sax and Beasley's nimble synth runs fly over the intricate rhythms from Erskine & Shepherd's on the upbeat "Hawaii Bathing Suit" (look also for a wild drum solo from the leader here), which leads into the Weather Report styled number "Dreamsville". Pure funky jazz is brought forth on the boiling maelstrom that is "Eleven Eleven", another excuse for wild, groove laden bass lines, nimble drumming, electric piano flights, and squonking sax solos. The melodic "Northern Cross" closes out the live set, chock full of memorable melodies, funky rhythms, blazing sax, electric piano, and drum solos.
I can't stress highly enough how great this album is...one part studio release, one part live recording, both adding up to a sensational jazz release that is easily one of the best I have heard this year, and a band who have to be considered one of the best going today. Essential!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
For the Time Being
Might as Well Be
If So Then
Hawaii Bathing Suit