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We Mourn The Passing of Ernie Carson (1937-2012)

Date Posted: 2012-01-13

Cornetist Ernie Carson, one of the most prolific GHB/Jazzology artists, died January 9 in Portland OR.

Born in Portland, a hotbed for traditional jazz in the 40's and 50's- he got his start in Monte Ballou's legendary Castle Jazz Band. After a stint in the Marines he settled in Los Angeles, where he worked with Ray Bauduc, Dave Weirbach and Ben Pollock. He later (ca. 1960) settled in San Francisco and joined Turk Murphy's band; he made his first recording, Live at Earthquake McGoon's (RCA Victor), in 1961.

Carson was in New Orleans in 1964 when he made a fine recording for Sonny Faggart of Pearl Records with the St Peter Street Strutters, a pickup group including Bob Greene.

Carson later settled in Atlanta, where he was involved in the operation of Ruby Red's Warehouse, a popular banjo emporium. He played in the band for many years, doubling on piano. Ernie Carson was in and out of New Orleans during the 80s and 90s and became a prolific GHB/Jazzology artist. For a long time it seemed there was a new Carson CD every year featuring great hot cornet playing and all sorts of hitherto-forgotten tunes.

Carson led his own Capital City Jazz Band and a revived Castle Jazz Band. He was George Buck's favorite cornetist (after Wild Bill Davison passed away), and he spent a lot time in the Audiophile Studio.

He returned to Portland about 1995 and worked a little, but there wasn't much going on at that time. He suffered smoke inhalation in an apartment fire which limited his cornet playing for a year or more. He was always promising to get back in the business with a new band, but it was not to be.

He was one of the great hot cornetists and there are few to take his place.

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