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Jazz Remembered


Earl Bostic


Earl Bostic


We have had a number of suggestions to remember saxophonist Earl Bostic. On our page about Wood Green Jazz Club (click here), Peter Pohl says: 'The record played most times during the intervals must have been Earl Bostic's 'Flamingo'. I can't hear that number now without being taken back to those great days at WGJC!'

Here's a video of dancers raving to Earl Bostic playing Artie Shaw's Special Delivery Stomp.




Earl Bostic (that was his name, he was not one of the 'Jazz Royalty' - Duke Ellington, King Oliver, etc.) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1912. He joined Terence Holder's "Twelve Clouds of Joy" at eighteen. He graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans, played the riverboats with Fate Marable, and with other bands including those of Hot Lips Page, Rex Stewart, Don Byas, Charlie Christian and Cab Calloway. He made his first recordings with Lionel Hampton at the age of 27.

During the 1940s, Earl Bostic formed his own band and made recordings on the Majestic label. His biggest ‘hit’ was his signature tune Flamingo, but others became popular – Temptation, You Go To My Head, Cherokee ...

Listen to Flamingo:




At various times, a number of famous jazz musicians played in his band – Benny Carter, John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Sir Charles Thompson, Stanley Turrentine, to name but a few.

Listen to Up There In Orbit .





His album Jazz As I Feel It featured Shelly Manne (drums), Joe Pass (guitar) and Richard Holmes (organ). The recording enabled Bostic to extend the three-minute limit imposed by the 45 RPM format. Click here to sample the album.

It is said that Earl Bostic was influenced by Sidney Bechet and (according to James Moody) John Coltrane was in turn influenced by Bostic. Coltrane told Down Beat magazine in 1960 that Bostic "showed me a lot of things on my horn. He has fabulous technical Earl Bostic Jazz As I Feel Itfacilities on his instrument and knows many a trick." Moody mentioned that "Bostic knew his instrument inside out, back to front and upside down." It is also suggested that 'If one listens carefully to Bostic's fabulous stop time choruses and his extended solo work, the roots of Coltrane's "sheets of sound" become clear.'

As for his jamming, the story is that he was well able to hold his own against Charlie Parker: 'The alto saxophonist Sweet Papa Lou Donaldson recalled seeing Parker get burned by Bostic during one such jam session at Minton's. Donaldson said that Bostic "was the greatest saxophone player I ever knew. Bostic was down at Minton's and Charlie Parker came in there. They played "Sweet Georgia Brown" or something and he gave Charlie Parker a saxophone lesson. Now you'd see him, we'd run up there and think that we're going to blow him out, and he'd make you look like a fool. Cause he'd play three octaves, louder, stronger and faster." Art Blakey remarked that "Nobody knew more about the saxophone than Bostic, I mean technically, and that includes Bird. Working with Bostic was like attending a university of the saxophone".

Earl Bostic died October 28, 1965 from a heart attack in New York while performing with his band.

Click here to read more about Earl Bostic.

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