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Though little known outside of their hometown of Chicago, the short-lived soul-jazz ensemble Boscoe were a musical bridge between the Windy City's R&B scene and the politically conscious and musically adventurous work of Sun Ra and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble. Boscoe consisted of six young men who had cut their teeth in Chicago's blues and R&B clubs -- James Rice on guitar, Darryl Johnson on sax, Reg Holden on trombone, Harold Warner on trumpet, Ron Harris on bass, and Steve Cobb on drums. Originally known as From the Womb to the Tomb, Boscoe were a regular attraction at Chicago's Green Bunny Lounge and frequently appeared at the High Chaparral, where local heroes such as Syl Johnson, Garland Green, and Tyrone Davis would sit in with the band. Boscoe also backed up a number of vocal acts, including Johnny Moore, Glenda Dove, Little Johnny Williams, and the Sequins. By 1973, Boscoe were playing original music that dealt with the realities of the African-American community, combining funky grooves with tight, expressive horn work, and the group cut a self-titled album featuring seven of its most potent compositions. Not wanting a major record label to dilute their message, Boscoe released their sole album on their own Kingdom of Chad Records label; sales were sparse and the bandmembers parted ways a few years later. However, the Boscoe album somehow became a favorite of Japanese record collectors interested in idiosyncratic funk and soul, and the group's reputation began to filter back to the United States. In 2007, Asterisk, an offshoot of the soul reissue label Numero Group, re-released Boscoe's album, with the disc hailed as a lost classic by critics. Following the breakup of Boscoe, Ron Harris and Steve Cobb played with jazz keyboardist Ramsey Lewis, and Cobb later released an album's worth of songs for the celebration of Kwanzaa, Seven Principles. ~ Mark Deming

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Chicago, IL

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