March 28, 1930 – October 19, 1989
|Instrument||tenor sax, flute|
|Birthplace||Staten Island, NY|
Known as "Big Daddy," Eric Dixon was closely associated with Count Basie's big band for much of his career. A unique tenor sax stylist in the tradition of Basie band soloists such as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Paul Quinichette, Dixon also wrote several arrangements for the band, often featuring himself on both tenor and flute. He was a member of the Basie band from the early '60s through the '80s, staying with the band after the leader's death in 1984.
Eric Dixon got his career started early, playing professionally by age 15. Before joining Basie, he played in several other big bands, most notably in the house band at the Apollo Theater, led by alto saxophonist Reuben Phillips, in the late '50s. Dixon's first two recordings, however, were in small groups led by trombonist Bennie Green and pianist Mal Waldron. In 1961 he was a member of Quincy Jones' big band. Dixon made only one recording as a leader: the 1974 sextet album "Eric's Edge."
Dixon's song Blues For Ilean was titled in tribute to his wife. In 1973, Eric and Ilean Dixon opened The Meeting Place, a bar and jazz venue in Staten Island. A street nearby was named Eric R Dixon Way in his honor in 2018.