Pee Wee Erwin - trumpet
Eddie Daniels - tenor sax
Kai Winding - trombone
Ray Bryant - piano
Major Holley - bass
Alan Dawson - drums
A brassy, bold trumpeter who had been a respected sideman during the Swing era with bands led by Ray Noble, Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, Pee Wee Erwin settled into a Dixieland niche during the 1950s before becoming active in New York radio and television work during the 1960s. He re-emerged on the scene in the mid 1970s with his Kings of Jazz, a more modern straight-ahead ensemble featuring a rotating cast of characters. For his appearance at the 1977 Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, on the Cote d'Azur in Southern France, Erwin brought some heavy-hitters in drummer Alan Dawson, bassist Major Holley, pianist Ray Bryant, renowned bebop trombonist Kai Winding and up-and-coming tenor saxophonist Eddie Daniels (some years before he began focusing exclusively on clarinet).
They open their brief set with a blazing take on the Cole Porter standard, "Love for Sale," which features a sizzling solo from Erwin and a ferociously swinging tenor solo from Daniels. Winding adds some mellow-toned, facile trombone lines and Holley adds one of his signature 'zoom-zoom' bass solos where he bows and sings unison lines simultaneously. They conclude their swinging set in Nice with a rendition of Charlie Parker's bluesy bop anthem, "Billie's Bounce," which features some superb blowing from Daniels, Erwin, Winding and the great Memphis-born pianist Bryant.
Born in Falls City, Nebraska on May 30, 1913, Erwin started on trumpet at age four. After gigging with various territory bands, he landed a gig in 1931 with bandleader Joe Haymes. Following a two-year stint in that band he joined Isham Jones' big band in 1933 and a year later moved to New York to join Benny Goodman's big band, with whom he played off and on through 1936. Erwin played for two years in Tommy Dorsey's orchestra (1937-1939) then put together his own big band in 1941. He worked steadily through the 1950s playing Dixieland in New York clubs while also leading recording sessions. In the mid-'70s, he played the European jazz festival with his Kings of Jazz and later made six albums during a remarkably productive period in 1980, just a year before his death at his home in Teaneck, New Jersey on June 20, 1981. (Bill Milkowski)