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Album Review

Although little appreciated by jazz critics because of his smoothed-out jump blues and R&B leanings, alto saxophonist Earl Bostic always made sure he had great young players in his groups, and such future jazz notables as John Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine and Jaki Byard all did valuable apprentice work in Bostic bands. Bostic knew how to put food on the table, and his deliberately simple arrangements were perfect for the middle of the road audiences of the day. Bostic also recognized quickly the potential of the LP when it began to emerge in the early 1950s, and his conceptually-themed albums (Earl Bostic Plays Old Standards etc.) took full advantage of the available time and space the medium afforded. This set, the fifth in Classics' chronological survey of Bostic's complete recorded output, covers May 1954 through January 1955, a time when he was still signed to King Records (his contract with King had begun much earlier in 1948). It features the usual assortment of Tin Pan Alley and swing era standards given simplified rearrangements with just enough jump blues oomph to make them danceable. Also here are a couple of smoothed-out mambos ("Mambostic" and "Mambolino") and a pumped up version of Liszt's "Lieberstraum," all of which indicate Bostic's underlying versatility. He knew what he was doing and he knew where the money was, and he also knew with certainty that jazz critics weren't going to pay his bills. As it was, Bostic's work with King functioned as a halfway bridge between the intellectual leanings of jazz and bop and the more commercially viable beat and stomp of R&B, a kind of proto-soul-jazz template done a decade or more before such a thing even had a name.


Born: 25 April 1913 in Tulsa, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Alto saxophonist Earl Bostic was a technical master of his instrument, yet remained somewhat underappreciated by jazz fans due to the string of simple, popular R&B/jump blues hits he recorded during his heyday in the '50s. Born Eugene Earl Bostic in Tulsa, OK, on April 25, 1913, Bostic played around the Midwest during the early '30s, studied at Xavier University, and toured with several bands before moving to New York in 1938. There he played for Don Redman, Edgar Hayes, and Lionel Hampton, making...
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1954-1955, Earl Bostic
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