Ernestine and I were both old-timers who enjoyed a lot of the same things. We were both originally from the South and loved the blues and R&B, and we both remained true to those elements. But she could sing anything. She liked to stay current with music, and she also had affection for the standards and a dedication to swing. She was always swinging. If you take all of those ingredients—the blues, R&B, swing—and put them together in the pot, you’ve got quite the little gumbo going on!
I first heard Ernestine on recordings way back, and I met her through Etta Jones, whom I was working with. She and Etta were great friends. I didn’t work with Ernestine til much later on. She called me to guest on a few of her shows. The first time was at Jazz Alley, up in Seattle, where she lived. Then she had different projects where she could use a saxophone, so I worked those gigs with her. I really enjoyed it. We really had a wonderful time together because we had that closeness to the blues and R&B. She really had fun with music.