Remembering Ernie Andrews

December 25, 1927 – February 21, 2022

 

A tribute to a Los Angeles musical treasure

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Jazz singer Ernie Andrews passed away on Feb. 21, 2022 at the age of 94.

He was born on Dec. 25, 1927 in Philadelphia but grew up in Los Angeles where he spent most of his life.

Andrews sang early on in a church choir and was discovered while still in high school, recording a dozen numbers as a teenager (starting in 1945) including a regional hit, “Sooth Me.”

He performed regularly on Los Angeles’ Central Avenue and many decades later would be featured prominently in the documentary Blues For Central Avenue.

After a relatively prosperous period in the late 1940s when he recorded for the Aladdin, Columbia and London label, Andrews faded a bit in popularity but always worked regularly.

He made two big band albums during 1956-59, sang with the Harry James Orchestra on and off during 1959-69, and recorded with Cannonball Adderley.

One of the last of the big band-style blues, ballad and swing singers in the tradition of Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing, Al Hibbler, and Big Joe Turner, Andrews made a comeback after a period in obscurity, performing and recording with the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut, Gene Harris’ Superband, Jay McShann, and the Harper Brothers in addition to leading albums for the Muse and High Note labels.

After 2005, Andrews only made one more recording (a few songs with the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra in 2013) but he continued performing until his last few years.

Here is Ernie Andrews in the 1980s belting out a blues in colorful fashion while joined by trumpeter Harry “Sweets Edison, tenor-saxophonist Teddy Edwards, pianist Gerry Wiggins, bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Paul Humphrey.

-Scott Yanow

 

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