The swing era may have ended during 1945-1946, but Erskine Hawkins
' big band was still a mighty power in the late '40s. Still based at the Savoy Ballroom, Hawkins
' ensemble occasionally showed a slight influence of bebop, but was essentially unchanged from five years earlier in style. Dud and Paul Bascomb
had departed, but the band still had strong soloists in trumpeter Sammy Lowe, altoist Bobby Smith
, tenorman Julian Dash
, baritonist/clarinetist Haywood Henry, who is particularly well-featured, and the exciting leader/trumpeter. With occasional vocals by Jimmy Mitchelle, there was no reason to think that this big band would not survive for decades to come. Highlights of the program of little-known but valuable music includes: "Gabriel's Heater," "Rose Room" (during which Henry is excellent on clarinet), "Corn Bread," "Texas Hop," and "Fishtail," among others. Highly recommended to fans of swinging big bands.