Ernie Wilkins

Ernie Wilkins & the Almost Big Band

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After permanently moving to Copenhagen in 1979, the American arranger Ernie Wilkins formed his Almost Big Band, a 13-piece orchestra that consisted of talented Europeans and a few Americans. For their first of four recordings, Wilkins (who arranged all eight selections) and his band perform two standards ("Hi-Fly" and "Sugar"), three of the leader's originals, and three obscurities. Among the key soloists are tenors Jesper Thilo, Bent Jaedig, and Wilkins; up-and-coming trumpeter Tim Hagans; pianist Kenny Drew; baritonist Per Goldschmidt; and drummer Ed Thigpen. This was an underrated and often-overlooked ensemble and their debut recording is easily recommended to big band collectors.