Earl Bostic, born April 25, 1913, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was an American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader known for his virtuosic playing and innovative approach to the alto saxophone. He played a significant role in the development of rhythm and blues and had a lasting impact on the world of saxophone music.
Bostic began his musical journey at a young age, learning the piano, trumpet, and eventually, the alto saxophone. He attended Xavier University in New Orleans, where he studied music and earned a degree in music theory. He later relocated to New York City in the early 1930s, where he began playing with numerous renowned jazz musicians, including Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, and Benny Carter.
Bostic’s big break came in 1939 when he formed his own big band. He recorded his first record, “The Earl Bostic Band,” in 1945. Bostic’s band, with its unique blend of jazz, swing, and R&B, became one of the most popular dance bands of the era. Bostic’s innovative arrangements and powerful saxophone playing made him a standout figure in the music industry.
Earl Bostic was known for his incredible technique on the alto saxophone. He possessed a unique, full-bodied tone and exceptional control, allowing him to produce a wide range of sounds and effects. His style often incorporated fast and intricate runs, dazzling audiences with his virtuosity. Bostic’s playing influenced many future saxophonists, including John Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine, and Benny Golson.
In the 1950s, Bostic continued to innovate, adopting the new technology of the electric saxophone. He also experimented with multi-tracking, allowing him to layer his saxophone lines in the recording studio. Bostic’s recordings, such as “Flamingo” and “Sleep,” showcased his ability to create beautiful, melodic solos that resonated with audiences.
Bostic’s career took a new direction in the late 1950s when he signed with King Records. He produced several successful albums, including “Jungle Drums,” “Dance Time,” and “Sweet Tunes of the Fantastic 50’s,” which further solidified his position as a leading figure in the world of R&B and jazz.
Earl Bostic’s career was cut short when he suffered a heart attack while performing in Rochester, New York, on October 28, 1965. He passed away at the age of 52, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and excellence in saxophone playing.
Throughout his career, Bostic was revered for his exceptional talent and innovative contributions to the saxophone’s role in popular music. His influence on future generations of saxophonists and his impact on the development of rhythm and blues ensure that Earl Bostic’s name will forever be remembered in the annals of music history.
Last updated 3/18/2023.