Ernest Melton was born in Goldsboro, NC. He relocated to Kansas City, MO (his mother’s hometown) at age 10. He picked up the saxophone that same year when he was enrolled in Longfellow Academy of the Arts. Bored with the classical curriculum of that institution. Ernest studied more contemporary genres of music and the guitar until the age of 14 when he joined a jazz program through the American Jazz Museum. By then he was playing mostly tenor saxophone. He joined his jazz band at Lincoln High School and many other programs around Kansas City. Naturally excelling, he left school at age 16 to practice on his own.
With kind neighbours and a very lenient mother, Ernest was allowed to practice his sax, listen to albums, and write compositions at any hour of the day. It was during this time he found his first major influences in jazz like Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Kenny Garrett and Pharoah Sanders. Pharoah’s polyphony (or growls) were like echoes of his father – a Primitive Baptist preacher and became a big part of his playing. An avid composer as well, Ernest studied with tutors in classical orchestration, big band arranging and Afro-Cuban drumming. He cites Charles Mingus, Igor Stravinsky, and Wayne Shorter as his favourite all around composers and still tries to implement their techniques in his music today
After being accepted into Berklee College of Music he decided not to go and started his career playing music in bands of every genre around Kansas City. While still in his early 20s Ernest has played all over the country and plans to travel abroad.