Bostic, Earl, jazz/R&B alto saxophonist, arranger, leader; b. Tulsa, Okla., April 25, 1913; d. Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 28, 1965. He started on alto and clarinet while at local Booker T. Washington School. He worked with Terrence Holder’s Band (1931–2), briefly with Bernie Moten early in 1933, then enrolled at Xavier Univ. in New Orleans; while there became proficient on several instruments; worked with Joe Robichaux (c. 1934). He left La., and worked with Ernie Fields’ Band before joining Clarence Olden’s Band in Columbus, Ohio. He played and arranged for a band jointly led by Charlie Creath and Fate Marable 1935-36, then joined Marion Sears’ Band in Cleveland, subsequently was with Clyde Turpin in Buffalo. He relocated to N.Y. in January 1938, then joined Don Redman in April. He briefly played with Edgar Hayes, then led his own band at Small’s (occasionally playing trumpet, guitar, and baritone sax); he also worked with Lips Page Band at Mime’s Club, N.Y., during 1941, and later led his own band at that same venue. He was briefly with Lips Page, then joined Lionel Hampton in June 1943; he left the next year and formed his own band, residing at Small’s from August 1944. He occasionally worked out-of-town gigs, including residency at Club Bengasi, Wash., during 1947. From the early 1950s, he enjoyed tremendous international success as a popular recording artist. “Flamingo” was a #1 R&B hit in 1951 and there were many others. He toured coast-to-coast extensively An automobile accident rendered him inactive from December 1951 until April 1, 1952, when he resumed touring with a new band including John Coltrane on tenor and backup group vocals. A new group in December 1952 included Blue Mitchell, and Stanley Turrentine later played with the band. After moving to Los Angeles, Bostic suffered a serious heart attack in 1956, and was inactive for three years. He resumed touring in 1959, but work was again curtailed by illness. After a period of semi-retirement, he began a residency at the Midtown Tower Hotel in Rochester; after playing the opening night, he suffered another heart attack and died two days later. Earl Bostic was a prolific arranger during the early 1940s, scoring for Artie Shaw, Hot Lips Page, Paul Whiteman, Louis Prima, and others.
Alto-Tude (1957); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1959); Jazz As I Feel It (1963); E.B. Plays Bossa Nova (1963); New Sound (1964).
—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter