Recent listening, current

Friday, December 6, 2013

155. Earl Bostic / Flamingo (2002)

Flamingo is a double disc compilation by the UK's Proper Records label, covering 1944 to 1951. The audio quality is very good. These groups are like many of the transitional orchestras of the 40s and early 50s. They feature veterans alongside torchbearers from swing to bop and beyond. In the early sides, we hear Bostic with Rex Harris, Cozy Cole, Don Byas, Tiny Grimes, and Lionel Hampton. Later, in his stripped down R&B orchestra, we hear a sampling of Jimmy Cobb, Wilbur Campbell, and Jaki Byard. Listen for the transition from gut busting alto to what became Bostic's trademark technique. In the 1949 sextet, tracks like "Filibuster" show repeated riffing with huge tone, but also a nimble fingered aptitude for clean, double-time runs through the scales, colored here and there with reed buzz. The lovely "Serenade" (Gene Redd on vibes) has a similar feel. Like Ben Webster, Bostic could play with arresting power, or sublime gentleness. "Flamingo," probably his best known track, has become the archetypal rendition, although it isn't much different in structure or appeal than other sides recorded by the group. I like the later sides best, but the early ones are priceless, too. 

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