Wednesday, 18 May 2011


When I was about fourteen this "small saint" arrived in my life courtesy of my father.

Dad was still, in the early sixties, a reservist in the Royal Air Force, having reached the rank of Squadron Leader. The big house where his unit was stationed was due to be sold off and the unit disbanded and, consequently, the contents of the Officer's Mess were shared out amongst Dad and his fellow officers.

He managed to lay claim to a good clutch of L.P.'s to aded to our collection at home. Ray Conniff and His Singers did not do much for my fourteen year old sensibilities but, oh, how Earl did!

As much as I liked contemporary popular music, his music was so much deeper, richer and more exotic.

The songs he recorded like Ebb Tide, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing and The Autumn Leaves were the songs of my parents' generation but I did not mind that at all for there was something very different about the musical "palette" that he employed to anything else I was listening to.

It was the first time that I had been made fully aware of the quality of "wistfulness" in music, or anywhere else for that matter. If you ever hear his version of "The Autumn Leaves" you will know just what I mean.

Earl's music was probably the first time I had made any real connection with the gems from the thirties, forties and fifties.

Connection? I nearly wore out that copy of "Sweet Tunes Of The Fabulous Fifties" The family's little Dansette record player was practically begging for mercy.

Ironically, Earl Bostic's signature tune, Flamingo, wasn't on that record. I only discovered it through the internet about a year ago and I think it is now my favourite track of all Earl's tracks - the ones that I have heard that is. It achieves the almost impossible feat of being wistful, boisterous and joyous at one and the same time.............. and entirely thrilling!


Born 25/4/13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joined Terence Holder's Band at the age of 18.
Made his first recording in 1942 and formed his own band in 1945.
Recorded his signature tune, Flamingo, in 1951.
Died of a heart attack while performing wit his band in Rochester, New York in 1965.
He wrote arrangements for, among others, Paul Whiteman, Louis Prima, and Lionel Hampton. His song writing hits include "Let Me Off Uptown" recorded by Anita O'Day.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


It's no use,
I shall need a new language.
These words I have used
for so long
are no match for this task.
They are blunt and heavy things
that will not take flight
to pierce her heart.

I need a language, suffused
with some elemental power,
to lend the directness of the arrow
to my purpose.

But earth will not do.
The nurturing clay tethers
all to the ground.

And air itself?
No, not air!
In the vast and endless

the great imperative
will be lost.

Water, then?
No, water flatters with a caress,
being only concerned
with the things of the surface.
It will not pierce her heart.

And the spark
that lights the fire
too often devours
the very thing
it sought to create.

No, the elements have been
no help to my purpose.
They cannot
pierce her heart.

The only hope, then,
is the light.
I shall live in the light
and make my stand
and pray that she is drawn
toward my orbit.

Light does not pierce.
It has no need.
It prefers, instead,
to peel away layers of illusion
that hide the truth
from the sincerest eye.

I shall not flinch
in all the shining.
I shall not flinch
under her gaze
for the light
will make all transparent
and vouch for me.

And, being washed clean,
I can only wish
that the gifts I hold
in my heart for her
will appear in bold relief.

I can only pray
for her delight,
that smile again,
her quickening heart
and an outstretched hand
to lead me home.

John R. Nicoll.