Ernest Brooks Wilkins Jr. (July 20, 1919 – June 5, 1999) was an American jazz saxophonist, conductor and arranger who spent several years with Count Basie. He also wrote for Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Dizzy Gillespie. He was musical director for albums by Cannonball Adderley, Dinah Washington, Oscar Peterson, and Buddy Rich.

Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In his early career he played in a military band, before joining Earl Hines’s last big band. He worked with Count Basie from 1951 to 1955, eventually leaving to work free-lance as a jazz arranger and songwriter. His success declined in the 1960s, but revived after work with Clark Terry, leading to a tour of Europe.

Eventually Wilkins settled in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he would live for the rest of his life. There he formed the Almost Big Band so he could write for a band of his own formation. The idea was partly inspired by his wife Jenny. Copenhagen had a thriving jazz scene with several promising jazz musicians as well as a well-established community of expatriate American jazz musicians which had formed in the 1950s and now included representatives like Kenny Drew and Ed Thigpen who joined the band along with Danish saxophonist Jesper Thilo. The band released four albums, but after 1991 he became too ill to do much with it.

Wilkins was responsible for orchestral arrangements on 1972’s self-titled album by Alice Clark, on Mainstream Records.

Ernie Wilkins died in Copenhagen on June 5, 1999 of a stroke.

He has a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, “Ernie Wilkins Vej” (Ernie Wilkins Street).

With Count Basie

With Louis Bellson

With Maynard Ferguson

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Al Grey

With Joe Newman

With Ernestine Anderson

With Count Basie

With Ray Brown

With Kenny Clarke

With Jimmy Cleveland

With Al Cohn

With Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis

With Maynard Ferguson

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Freddie Green

With Milt Jackson

With Harry James

With Quincy Jones

With Sam Jones

With Mark Murphy

With Charles McPherson

With Joe Newman

With Herb Pomeroy

With Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams

With Sarah Vaughan and the Count Basie Orchestra

With Dinah Washington

With Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson

With Charles Williams