Autobiography & Chronicle of Weather Report
"No Beethoven" chronicles the life and times of drummer Peter Erskine, with the legendary band Weather Report being the nexus to this first-hand account. Erskine was in the midst of the modern American jazz music scene as it underwent its most dynamic change. From the last days of the big band era to the height of fusion...there never was a band quite like Weather Report, and there has never been a more insightful, personal or authentic telling of that band's story and the musicians — Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Jaco Pastorius — who changed music forever...to the European wave as represented by Manfred Eicher's ECM label, to the dawning of the age of the musician as entrepreneur and educator...Peter Erskine is a musician of his times with an incredibly rich story to tell. Many stories to tell! He was there...and now you can be, too. With never-before published photographs.
"No Beethoven" includes chapters dedicated to Weather Report and the musicians Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius and Wayne Shorter, plus the bands Steps Ahead, Steely Dan, and artists such as Elvin Jones, Joni Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, Diana Krall, Steve Gadd, producer Manfred Eicher, composers John Williams and Mark-Anthony Turnage, et al. The book provides a revealing look at the creative process involved in performing music on-stage and in the recording studio, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the musical instrument industry operates.
This is a book for all musicians and fans of music. As famed drummer and Rush founder Neil Peart writes: "'No Beethoven' is among the best musical autobiographies I have read. Peter's story is absorbing and compelling, full of well-drawn characters and incidents both humorous and serious. It flows with the same ease and naturalness as his drumming, and under that good-humored gloss, it conveys the same profundity of experience and ideas. This book should be read not only by every drummer, but by every musician. Even dedicated "amateurs" of music will find it entertaining and worthwhile."
A treasure trove for Weather Report fans
If you are a fan of WR or a fan of Peter Erskine, you must read this book. It is simply jammed packed with cool stories about the music and musicians we love. When I look at Erskine's career, I am struck by how many of my absolute favorite artists he has played with. There's of course, a reason for that-Peter always plays what's needed, is versatile can be, and seems to consistently have a fresh take on things. No wonder he is in such high demand.
Erskine has a friendly, conversational tone to his writing. Rather than being laid out chronologically, the book alternates between functioning as a straight ahead biography, yet periodically circles back to those special years with Weather Report. While those chapters are the high point for this reader, I enjoyed reading about Peter's growth as an artist and human being. He is humble and self effacing at times, and always honest. There are more than a few laugh out loud stories.
For Weather Report fans, there is almost an embarrassment of riches here. Just the sheer number of photos from their three tours in Japan makes it worth the price of admission.
The book also takes advantage of being an ebook and adds some multi media to the mix. Erskine seems to have saved virtually every newspaper clipping and photo from his entire career! So there is all kinds of interesting memorabilia to check out. I also appreciated the inclusion of audio and occasional videos of some of the bands Eskine played with, Ferguson, Kenton etc. There is also some spoken word audio taken from interviews and speeches that is very informative and at times, very moving.
The only criticism I have thus far (I'm only about 1/2 way thru,) are several chapters devoted to the instruments and endorsements Erskine has received over the years. While this might be fascinating information for drummer geeks, I found these chapters somewhat tedious and skimmed over some of the details. I get the importance of Zildjan in moving the music forward and how important that relationship was, but really, in my opinion some of this was a clear cut case of TMI.
Overall, I find it difficult to put this book down. I highly recommend it to lovers of contemporary jazz and in particular, lovers of Weather Report. Thanks so much to Peter Erskine for his contributions to the music and this generous gift to fans.
This is one of those books that if' you're a fan of modern Jazz, especially Weather Report, you won't be able to put down. It has always been pretty clear to me that Peter is an insanely great drummer, and this gives the reader a real "fly on the wall" perspective on modern jazz as it was coming into focus during the age of Weather Report. Not only is Peter an unparalleled drummer, he's a pretty damned good writer as well.
Weather Report And More
I'm a fan of Weather Report and I purchased this book largely because of that. It's packed with Peter's stories and behind-the-scene anecdotes about the band, Joe, Wayne and Jaco--not to mention tons of photos. That said, this is a book about Peter Erskine's life and I read it from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed it. Peter's writing style is engaging and along the way he imparts pearls of wisdom about being a musician and about life. A must read for Weather Report fans, and also for anyone interested in Peter and the many musicians he has worked with over the years. Now I need to go find those late-eighties Peter Erskine CDs squirreled away in my office and give them a spin!