The Almost Big Band was a dream come true for Ernie Wilkins. Finally he could write for his own band of hand-picked musicians, and not on commission as he had done throughout his career.
After settling in Denmark in 1980 his wife, Jenny, suggested that he form a big band of first rate jazz musicians. Copenhagen was at the time home to many famous ex-patriots such as Kenny Drew, Ed Thigpen, Sahib Shihab, Richard Boone and newcomer Tim Hagans. They all jumped at the chance to join in.
Ernie was also impressed with the overwhelming mass of Danish jazz talents. He wanted great soloists as well as good ensemble musicians and he successfully gathered the cream of the crop. He loved his band and took great pride in writing entirely new material for his musicians, putting their individual talents to good use, evident on all the releases that were soon to follow.
This ”small” big band or the Almost Big Band of twelve sounds like a full-sized big band thanks to Ernie’s compact, swinging arrangements. Critics have called the band: “A high-class orchestra”, “A musical monster”, “Big enough to shout like a full orchestra yet flexible enough to swing like a combo”.
The Almost Big Band played throughout Europe until Wilkins’ took ill in 1991. They recorded four albums (See releases). After this the band was inactive until the year 2000, when the Almost Big Band came together to pay tribute to Ben Websters 90th anniversary. At that occasion the band members discovered how much they had missed the music, just waiting to be played. Baritone player Per Goldschmidt was called on to take over as bandleader. Since then the band has been very active with concerts at Ronnie Scott’s in London and several concerts in Scandinavia either alone or featuring such stars as Clark Terry , Jon Faddis, Putte Wickman and Tony Coe. This has brought about two CD’s and a half-hour television appearance.
Today the band consists of Danish all-stars, many of whom are Ernie’s original choices. The band can also boast many young talents you will be hearing from in the future. The majority of the ex-patriots are, however, sadly not with us anymore.
Trumpet: Benny Rosenfeld, Palle Bolvig, Thomas Fryland
Trombone: Peter Jensen, Lea Nielsen
Saxophone: Jan zum Vohrde, Pernille Bevort, Jan Harbeck, Per Goldschmidt (bandleader)
Piano: Nikolaj Bentzon
Bass: Jesper Lundgaard
Drums: Aage Tanggaard
See Members for bios
A great family consisting of the ultimate Danish jazz elite of young, old and in-between.