Friday, June 30, 2017

(Dance to) the Best of Bostic !!

Earl Bostic was the king of the King record label prior to the arrival of James Brown. As a disciple of Louis Jordan, Bostic's approach to the alto saxophone was a departure, straddling the line between bar walking honking and an out-and-out instrumental crooning style. This collection is a very good one in that it expresses the many types of jazz, blues and R&B Bostic embraced. And one has to remember when these tunes were recorded -- 1951 to 1956 -- years of transitions from swing and bop to race records where more sophisticated tastes were at odds with the putatively square music being presented on a new thing called television. Bostic's music, as the title suggests, was also danceable. His easy swinging big hit from 1951 "Flamingo" kicks off the set, defining smooth well before illegitimate "smooth jazz" was coined. A few jazz standards are included, with an interesting take of "Always" as Bostic comes in late, a rocking shuffle swing ideal for the normally rendered ballad "Deep Purple," a vibrato laden Bostic with shimmering vibraphone behind him during "I Cant Give You Anything but Love," and an outstanding, slow, heart melting rendition of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." "Steam Whistle Jump" is clearly a knock-off of "Take the 'A' Train." Where Bostic expertly excels in a manner as potent as Gene Ammons is on the soul-jazz side of things. His energetic "What, No Pearls?" is a rocking time capsule for the era, and "Seven Steps" grooves with a Latin twist. Bostic's saxophone trades quick melody snippets with guitar on the most intriguing cut of the date, the jam "Don't You Do It." Not a definitive collection, but a fine cross-section of the meatier and substantive side of Earl Bostic, with no filler or the string dominated pop style music he eventually presented.

Earl Bostic