Erly J. Thornton III is an accomplished musician with over 30 years experience with the saxophone. Genre of choice is Contemporary Jazz and Funk.
Starting on the sax in the 5th grade, Erly was challenged to play in front of his father’s musician friends on weekends to the music of Ray Charles. His improvisational style started there. Erly began studying the music in his room to learn every lick he could from jazz artists such as Herb Alpert, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, Najee, George Howard, and others, learning their works by memory. But he also felt the R&B and Funk of groups like Cameo, EWF, Zapp, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and The Time contributing to his multi-faceted style.
During the middle 80’s Erly started college and after a season with the Tennessee State University Jazz Band began playing professionally for the first time in the Nashville area with various groups the most enjoyable being “AyreTyte” a Jazz contemporary jazz cover band. It is with this group and with Jerry Wilborn and “Limited Access” Erly performed state wide in the cities of Knoxville, Chattanooga and even spent some time on World Famous Beale Street in Memphis.
In the 90′s Erly moved to Orlando and very soon Erly was performing in Central Florida with several groups as well as solo. The unexpected breakup of one of the most successful of his Jazz groups thus far, “B.One”, prompted him to pursue a solo career in earnest.
Founding Groove Elation Records, Erly began writing in 2004 composing many of the songs on his first solo release. Drawing from his past he initially decided to create music using the strong bass and drums of the R&B of his youth, creating funky Jazz licks over the top. The effort was initially titled “The Old School Beat” but after collaboration with Veit Renn of Renn Music Productions the project evolved to be titled “My Life”.
“My Life” enjoyed tremendous success for an indie release breaking the top 30 on the Jazz charts which very few indies every do and is still being “discovered” by new fans daily. The most common comment is “I can’t seem to bring myself to take it out of the player. I play it over and over”
Erly released his 2nd project titled “In Transit” in May 2012. Produced by Derrick Harvin for Harvin Music, the CD takes us in a more mature direction but still maintains the dedication to a mix of R&B, jazz and funk. The title song “In Transit” soared to the Billboard Jazz Top 30 for several weeks during the summer and is still one of the most played songs by Music Choice and DMX.
Moving to Europe in 2012 Erly brought his music to an International audience, collaborating with Smooth Jazz EU in the Netherlands, performing at the Metropool in Hengelo, a video concert witn Jeff Kashiwa and a tour with Chieli Minucci. In 2014 Erly moved to England where he performed with numerous bands and shared the legendary Pizza Express London stage with Steve Oliver and Jeff Kashiwa during their tours.
Erly now lives in Miami where he is starting a 3rd CD which will feature collaborations with a number of his Mainstream Jazz friends.