Ernie Caceres was born in Rockport, Texas in November, 1911. He was the brother of Emilio (violinist) and Pinero (trumpeter and pianist). Starting in 1928, he worked in local Texas bands, and then with Emilio in Detroit and New York. He joined Bobby Hackett in the summer of 1938, then played tenor sax in Jack Teagarden’s band in 1939. In 1940, he joined Glenn Miller and stayed with him until 1942. He appeared with the Miller band in the movie Sun Valley Serenade.

After stints with Johnny Long, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Woody Herman, Ernie served in the US Army in 1945, after which he played at Nick’s in New York and with Billy Butterfield. He took part in many Eddie Condon recordings and broadcasts in the ’40’s and ’50’s. He led his own quartet at the Hickory Log in New York in 1949 and worked regularly on TV with the Gary Moore Orchestra. In 1956, Ernie worked with Bobby Hackett’s band at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York. During the ’60’s, he worked regularly with Billy Butterfield and made many appearances at jazz festivals.

In about 1964, he returned to San Antonio, playing locally and subbing for my father occasionally on clarinet. On a couple of our tours, our trombone player couldn’t make it, so Ernie filled in on baritone sax. He became great friends with my father–they had a mutual admiration society. Then, when Ernie became ill with throat cancer, Dad was at his side during his ordeal. Ernie willed his prized baritone sax to Dad.

During the ’68 HemisFare, Emilio and Ernie re-formed their group of earlier years and played weeknights at the Landing for several months. He also made many other Landing appearances, mostly on clarinet, but sometimes on baritone.

Ernie was quite a character. He was a great cook of Mexican food, especially sauces of all kind including mole. He and Billy Butterfield used to hang out a lot together in New York and had a lot of fun with their vintage MG’s.

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