Live in Italy (Fuzzy Music)

Peter Erskine Trio

Released May 20, 2022

Grammy Nominee for Best Jazz Instrumental Album 2023




This dynamic live album was recorded at a concert engagement in Camogli, Italy on November 19, 2021, following a two-week Italian tour. On Live in Italy, the Peter Erskine Trio performs gorgeously cinematic original material composed by each of the celebrated trio members, as well as some stellar arrangements of jazz standards and a particularly moving tribute to late piano titan Chick Corea. Joining forces with Erskine on this trio release is his long-standing trio with Alan Pasqua on keys and Darek Oles the bass. At the helm of this trio outing, Erskine masterfully shapes the arc of each composition and brings his full set of colors to the evocative works displayed here.

Speaking to the longevity and to the excellence of the Peter Erskine Trio, renowned bassist John Patitucci remarks in the liner notes: “It should come as no surprise that Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua and Darek Oles, who have played together for many years now, are, indeed, a perfect illustration of why trio playing in jazz is so important, beautiful, vulnerable and, ultimately, moving and powerful.” 

Capturing all of the beauty, nuance and grace of an evening in Camogli, Italy, and reflecting the exhilaration found in playing before a hungry audience in a beautiful concert hall, Live in Italy is a veritable masterclass in interplay. The trio context allows each musician the opportunity to create from their personal point of view and yet, it only really works when all involved are interconnected on a high level – this is certainly a fine example of such a musical situation, documenting the seamless coalescence of three performers of this echelon, the first tour of the trio since prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

Live in Italy begins with Pasqua’s tender piece “Agrodolce”. Translating to “bittersweet” in Italian, the composition captures a distinct wistfulness. A rhapsodic piano introduction sets up a simply unforgettable melody. Erskine compliments Pasqua’s sultry harmonic refrains as only he can, with sensitive brushwork and thoughtful utility of his instrument to further develop the musical narrative. This piece is one of five poignant pieces presented here that were composed by Pasqua. “New Hope”, the pianist’s poetic tribute to Keith Jarrett, exemplifies the lyricism and unity of this trio. Pasqua’s “Old School Blues” is a soulful ensemble piece, featuring each player trading choruses on a blues form. Erskine’s rhythmic invention is perhaps more fresh and tasteful than ever, and is well complemented by his esteemed bandmates. The bright, jubilant “The Turnaround” transitions seamlessly from a shuffle feel to deep swing. Pasqua’s melodic lines soars over these changes, and Erskine delivers a fantastic solo with background figures from Pasqua and Oles.

Erskine’s stunning triple-meter composition “Three-Quarter Molly” is presented here, John Patitucci remarks “[“Three-Quarter Molly”] is a beautiful composition and the performance here is stunning. The use of space and restraint makes one think of a gorgeous Japanese Brush painting. Each player has such an equal voice and there is always ample room for every idea to be expressed. The title, by the way, is a sly reference to the Elvin Jones tune “Three Card Molly”.”

Darek Oles contributes two wonderful pieces, the first is “Snowglobe”, a harmonically rich piece that features his melodic invention with a superb bass intro. Oles’ “The Honeymoon” brings the group back into a heavy swing-feel driven by Mr. Erskine. Patitucci notes “This tune swings with lots of exuberance and, yet, it still has that “ Dry Martini” subtlety to it. The Drum and Bass trading is organic and so very connected. The feeling is joyous indeed.” Live in Italy concludes with Pasqua’s “Dear Chick”, a tribute to the fallen jazz icon Chick Corea. Patitucci remarks that the piece itself “has the creative spark, bright energy, harmonic beauty and joy of creating that reminds us of the Master himself.” This spark certainly motivates a stellar performance from each of the trio members, ending the evening on a surge of creativity and ebullience.

With Live in Italy, Erskine offers listeners a chance to immerse themselves in a moment of time – a post-covid 19 return to performance for the institution that is the Peter Erskine Trio. The outfit delivered a performance marked with jubilance, gratitude, wistfulness and deep intention, feeding off of the tremendous energy of Italian audiences, and their bucolic surroundings. As Patitucci indicates: “…this entire set of music shows that although Jazz is known for its freedom and individual expression, it is the power of the group, the community, the family, history and stories passed down by the elders that make it so important and unique.”

Track Listing:

1. Agrodolce (Alan Pasqua) 8:49

2. New Hope (Alan Pasqua) 7:49

3. Old School Blues (Alan Pasqua) 7:32

4. Nuages (Django Reinhardt) 5:04

5. Three-Quarter Molly (Peter Erskine) 6:07

6. Turnaround (Alan Pasqua) 5:31

7. Con Alma (Dizzy Gillespie) 9:29

8. Snowglobe (Darek Oles) 8:21

9. The Honeymoon (Darek Oles) 5:13

10. Dear Chick (Alan Pasqua) 5:12


Alan Pasqua: piano

Peter Erskine: drums

Darek Oles: bass

Recorded live November 19, 2021, at Teatro Sociale, Camogli, Italy, by Roberto Vigo

Producer: Peter Erskine

Mixing: Aaron Walk

Mastering: Peter Doell

Executive Producer: Alessandro Travi

Art Direction/Design: Bob Smith


Pianist Alan Pasqua and drummer Peter Erskine have been playing together for over fifty years now. For over twenty years Darek Oles has completed the trio on double bass. While brilliant upper-echelon musicians in their own right, the magic that ensues in this trio is remarkable. Could playing together for so long, performing thousands of shows over the years lead to burnout or it becoming “old hat?” Not for these three true jazz cats. The conversations just get deeper, their vocabulary becomes more learned, and their freedom of improvisation is now unparalleled.
In 2021 the trio had a brief two weeks tour in Italy. One evening Live in Italy was recorded at an intimate concert hall in Camogli. The pristine recording has been nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Crowd noise can be a problem with some live recordings, however, the trio was greeted at the Teatro Sociale by an enthusiastic yet respectful audience. They applauded earnestly after each song, but you could have heard a pin drop during the performance, as if they did not want to miss one note of the artistry before them. As much as this exquisite trio brings a lot to every performance there is one thing missing. Ego. There are no unnecessary flashy solos or “wow look how fast I can play” or competitive nonsense. They instead nourish, expand, and explore the boundaries of creativity. They respectfully apply their abundant skills in service of the song. Sometimes less is more, and at all times what is best for the development and sound of the material is their mindset and priority.
Pasqua opened the show with a three-minute wistful, poignant, winding road of a solo that articulately brushed up against serendipity along the way. Speaking of brushes, Erskine came in quietly, along with Oles, so as to not disturb the moment in time Pasqua had created. With symmetry, the trio finished Pasqua’s memorable composition “Agrodulce,” which translates to bittersweet. As a sidebar, it seems the trio had some fun with song listings on the CD. It is a MENU, that of an Italian restaurant, with five categorical selections. Those being Antipasta, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolce. It is representative of the fun and joy they have in performing together and that they share with the audience.

Two more Pasqua-penned tunes follow. “New Hope” was written with respect to Keith Jarrett, and indeed it has that feel. “Old School Blues” kicked up the tempo with strong walking lines from Oles and the opportunity for Erskine to shine with sharp fills. The trio’s interplay gels more with every groove. While they are known for playing cerebral reimaginings of many standards, as well as their own original work, the Django Reinhardt classic “Nuages” came as a bit of a surprise. A delicate song to take on when you consider its origins. The title translates to clouds. Written in 1939, Reinhardt was referring to the melancholic clouds of war during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Stunning is the best word to describe this beautifully solemn yet musically robust take. Pasqua renders Reinhardt’s guitar phrasing on his piano with nuance and respect, while Oles plays with fluidity in caressing his instrument bringing vintage elegance to the piece.
Erskine’s savvy use of space, rhythm, and timing is featured in his clever and artful composition “Three-Quarter Molly.” In a subtle nod of the kit to Elvin Jones and his “Three Card Molly,” it is as if Erskine is floating with ease inside the textures of Pasqua and Oles. They shuffled off to Pasqua’s “Turnaround” which then indeed turns around into some deep swing. The joint was jumpin.’ The changes of direction and astute interplay are now widely on display. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” is a favorite of the trio to perform. They were already swinging so its brisk pace just kept the momentum moving forward, while very much their own perceptions of the energy and feel of Gillespie’s work remained intact.

Two outstanding compositions from Oles closed the show. Well, there was an encore, but we will get to that. The harmonically rich “Snowglobe” is a sophisticated piece of jazz that combines many elements. Just the kind of tune in which they were able to apply their large vocabulary and dig into. “The Honeymoon” has become a staple. The smartly-crafted tune has a melody that Pasqua flies on, while the bop trade-offs between Erskine and Oles are priceless. As he had throughout the evening, Erskine feasted on Oles deft changes. An upbeat big-time swinging crowd-pleaser for sure. The encore was sentimental in that it was a tribute to Chick Corea. It emanated Chick’s creative energy and harmonic swell. Pasqua’s “Dear Chick” was full of joy, which was so often the case with his music.

This is a jazz trio performance of note. The Grammy nomination may have already given that away. This is jazz in an array of colors, textures, and insightful conversations. The longtime trio continues to evolve, finding new ways to express, create, and converse. The imaginative and fertile trio of Pasqua, Erskine, and Oles has reached a new pinnacle in intuitive improvisation.

Jim Worsley (All About Jazz)