Link to the article HERE
Damian Erskine – “So To Speak”
Bassist Damian Erskine’s name may sound familiar – he is drummer Peter Erskine’s nephew – but he is also forging an identity as a top-notch electric bassist. On his newest recording – So To Speak, the Portland, OR-based artist has assembled some of the best Latin jazz musicians from the area to produce a hearty disk of funky Latin-flavored jazz fusion. Erskine’s sound is somewhat Jaco-esque, but with his own zest, and he plays several prodigious solos as well as propelling the songs with his acute sense of rhythm. However, despite his incredible technique, he never overplays and instead stays within service to the songs. Erskine is joined by drummer/percussionist Reinhardt Melz and percussionist Rafael Trujillo to create a monster rhythm bed that pianist Ramsey Embick and guitarist Chris Mosely are free to float over. Guests appear on tenor and soprano sax, trumpet and additional percussion on some of the songs. Everything is tasteful and melodic and compelling, with the delicious “Kaluanui” – driven by Erskine’s funky bass chords nearly reaching contemporary jazz “hit” status. Erskine has played with people like Gino Vanelli, Les McCann, Jeff Lorber and, of course, his uncle – who he says instilled a love of rhythm in him. Most of the songs such as “Inside Out,” “FIF,” “American Gyro” “Aslant,” “Caberina” and the album-ending “Creep” are mid-to-up-tempo with a funk fusion and Latin factor, but the tune “Light” lives up to it’s title and showcases Embick and Erskine nicely on a balladic tempo. I suspect with the talent he shows here, we will be hearing much more from this player/composer.