One of the life goals of ERNEST DAWKINS, is for his music and compositions to reflect the evolving collective cultural memory of the American jazz aesthetic. Dawkins is one of the world’s premiere saxophonists and composers. He is an entrepreneur with years of experience working with new media technologies to produce and promote his work and that of the jazz community online and in digital venues.
ERNEST DAWKINS is leader of several ensembles, including the New Horizons Ensemble, Aesop Quartet, Chicago Trio, Live the Spirit Big Band, and the Chicago 12. He is also a member of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble. Dawkins has recorded numerous CDs. His publishing company, Dawk Music, has eight releases to date. He will release three new recordings in 2011, All dedicated to the late legendary Saxophonist Fred Anderson: 1. Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble, Delmark Records, Shades of the Prairie Prophet. 2. the Chicago Trio, Rouge Art, (Ernest Dawkins, Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead) live at the Velvet Lounge; 3. Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble, Dawk Music Live at the Vision Festival 2009.
ERNEST DAWKINS started his musical journey at the tender age of twelve, when he learned how to play the bass and conga drums. At nineteen, he became mesmerized by the sound of the saxophone while listening to his father’s jazz recordings of Lester Young. It was not until he heard the alto sax of Guido Sinclair, however, that he knew this was the instrument he wanted to play. Within a week, he had purchased his first saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Two weeks later, Dawkins got his first lesson from members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). From there, his illustrious career in music began.
ERNEST DAWKINS was named ‘Chicagoan of the Year’ twice by the Chicago Tribune, most recently in 2001. He received a Meet the Composers Round VII New Residencies grant in 2000 and has been awarded the State of Illinois Governors Fellowship award twice. In 2008, he received a Governor’s International Grant. Dawkins established The Englewood Jazz Festival, now in its 11th year and founded Live The Spirit Residency, a not-for-profit arts organization committed to improving access to creative and improvised music for under-served communities within the city of Chicago.
ERNEST DAWKINS has created commissioned works for the Sons d’Hiver Festival and the Banliues Bleues Festival of Paris, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and the King Arts Complex of Columbus Ohio. Dawkins is an active member in the local arts community and is former Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Dawkins has worked with a myriad of music greats including: Ramsey Lewis, Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Willie Pickens, Malachi Favors, Henry Threadgill, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Braxton, Jack McDuff, Don Moye, Jerry Butler, and The Dells.
1983 Film Score : “Malcolm X” Directed by Alan Segel
1988 Birth of A Notion Sessoms records Shadow Vignettes
1990 Live in Leverkusen Open Minds records New Horizons Ensemble
1994 South Side Street Songs Silkheart Records
1995 Chicago Now Volume #1 Silkheart Records
1997 Chicago Now Volume #2 Silkheart Records
Commissioned to compose three piece suite in honor of
Rahsaan Roland Kirk. King Arts Complex, Columbus Ohio
1996 Ethnic Heritage Continuum
1997 How the Kau see Sirus Silk heart records
1998 Freedom Jazz Dance Delmark records
1998 Mothers Blue Velvet Shoes New Horizons Ensemble Dawk Music
1999 Joberg Jump New Horizons Ensemble Delmark records
1998 Fables for A New Millennium The Aesop Quartet, 8th Harmonic
1999. Beltway to Bronzeville commissioned by Jazz Institute of Chicago
Meet the Composers Round Vll 10 compositions two major suites.
The Eagles and the Castle and transmigration triumph of the tragedy both
on released Dawk Music.
2001. Cape Town Shuffle New Horizons Ensemble, Delmark Records.
2002 European Musings Aesop Quartet Dawk music.
2002 Watch Me Dvd Banliues Bleues festival
2003 Misconception of a Delusion Shades of a Charade commissioned
by Sons d hiver festival Cd released, Dawk Music
2004 Mean Ameen New Horizons Ensemble Delmark Records
2005 Live Dvd recorded in Chicago at the Historic Velvet Lounge New
Horizons Ensemble Delmark Records.
2005 Launched Chi-creates first owned and operated video streaming