Drummer Peter Erskine likes musical fireworks.
And the sparks will fly Sunday evening when the 40-year-old Santa Monica resident, pianist Alan Pasqua and bassist Dave Carpenter get together for a free jazz concert at the Veterans Wadsworth Theater in Westwood.
The performance, sponsored by the UCLA Student Committee for the Arts, KPCC-FM and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Foundation, is a part of the annual "Jazz at the Wadsworth" concert series. This season celebrates the works of Grammy Award winners.
Erskine, a past Grammy recipient for his work with the group Weather Report and the 1979 album "8:30," joins Pasqua and Carpenter on the stage for a night of fun. The trio will present a program that includes pieces from Erskine's "You Never Know" and "Time Being" and Pasqua's recording, "Milagro," as well as a few surprises.
"The thing I like about trios is the music can go any direction," said Erskine, who works as both a studio artist and a stage performer. "With the piano trio, the dynamic we look for is pretty soft and not very loud. By playing soft, you can open up the audience's ears so they can hear the texture and color of the music."
Born and raised near Atlantic City, N.J., he began playing drums at age 4. By his teens, he was attending jazz camps organized by Stan Kenton and meeting such musicians as pianist Keith Jarrett and saxophonist David Sanborn.
He went on to graduate from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and to study percussion with George Gaber at Indiana University. His first professional work came in 1972 when he joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After a three-year stint with Kenton, he worked with Maynard Ferguson and later joined Weather Report.
During his almost 20 years as a musician and composer, Erskine has recorded more than 200 albums with performers including Stan Getz, Henry Mancini, Steely Dan and Doc Severinsen. He also enjoys composing pieces for dance and theater. He has completed musical scores for stage productions of "King Richard" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Besides composing, touring and recording, Erskine welcomes the opportunity to perform before a local audience.
"Hopefully, the music hits their ears and it's a satisfying experience with some excitement along the way," he said. "I am delighted that we get to play this music. . . . It will be fun."
"Jazz at the Wadsworth" begins at 7 p.m. Sunday. Veterans Wadsworth Theater, Sawtelle and Wilshire boulevards, Westwood. Admission is free. Information: (310) 794-8961.