Earl Bostic

 

April 25, 1913 - October 28, 1965

Earl Bostic, best known as an alto saxophonist, composer and arranger, but also an accomplished trumpeter and guitarist, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 25, 1913.  He played clarinet and alto saxophone in his high school and Boy Scout bands, then studied harmony, theory and various instruments at Xavier University in New Orleans before touring with Charlie Creath, Fate Marable, Marion Sears, and Clyde Turpin.

After moving to New York City, Bostic played with Edgar Hayes, Don Redman, Leon Gross, "Hot Lips" Page and Cab Calloway. He arranged for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra as well as Louis Prima and the Ina Ray Hutton all-girls’ band.  He played alto as well as trumpet and guitar, heading his own band in Harlem in 1941 at the Mimo Club. He joined Lionel Hampton’s band for two years before starting again on his own in 1945, recording first with a big band on the Majestic label, then with a smaller group for Gotham records.

Bostic achieved extraordinary success later on King records, but not in jazz. Instead, his big-toned, extroverted alto saxophone solos found favor with rhythm-and-blues audiences – his hits included “Flamingo,” “Sleep,” “Moonglow,” “Cherokee,” and “You Go to My Head.”  Bostic was elected to the 1959 Playboy All-Star band in a readers’ poll and appeared at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago in August of that year.

He scored as a songwriter with “Let Me Off Uptown,” the Gene Krupa band’s novelty hit featuring Anita O’Day and Roy Eldridge on vocals, “The Major & the Minor,” recorded by guitarist Alvin Ray, and “Brooklyn Boogie,” recorded by Louis Prima.

Bostic died October 28, 1965, in Rochester, New York.

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