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Friday 29 July 2011

Safronia B – Calvin Boze and his All-Stars

Scan courtesy Joan K
Recorded on January 13th, 1950, in Los Angeles. Personnel include Calvin Boze (trumpet and vocal), Maxwell Davis (tenor sax), and possibly Marshall Royal (alto sax), Don Wilkerson (tenor sax) and Willard McDaniel (piano).

Listen to “Safronia B” here:

Released on Aladdin 3055, b/w “Angel City Blues” in May, 1950. In Billboard, 10th June 1950, the record reached number nine in the most played juke box rhythm & blues records chart. It failed to appear in the record sales chart. By the following week “Safronia B” had dropped out of the juke box chart. This was in fact the only chart appearance by any Calvin Boze recording.

Scan courtesy Joan K
Nevertheless, it’s a fine catchy jump blues which has stood the test of time. It was included in two of the best CD compilations of Aladdin material: “The Aladdin Records Story” and “Jumpin’ Like Mad – Cool Cats & Hip Chicks.” It also appeared on the two vinyl Calvin Boze collections – “Havin’ A Ball” and “Choo Choo’s Bringing My Baby Home.”

2 CD comp presented as a mini-78 rpm album
Well worn copy of classic 2CD set compiled by Billy Vera
However, this wasn’t the first version of “Safronia B” recorded by Calvin. In 1946 he sang on “Saffronia Bee” with the Marvin Johnson Orchestra on the small G&G label. He was billed as “Calvin Boaz” on the disc. The song itself is in some ways a throwback to the swing era with phrases like “I’se a muggin’” and “Shoot the liquor to me John boy,” both of which refer to 1930’s hits. The 1950 Aladdin version is very much a Louis Jordan style jump blues with a romping backing arranged by Maxwell Davis who manages to get a sly quote from “Buttons and Bows” into his sax break.

Aladdin's big seller - Amos Milburn gets promotion in Billboard, June 1950
For decades Calvin Boze remained a somewhat mysterious figure to fans of jump blues, with the date and place of his birth being unknown and his musical career suddenly stopping in 1952. A lot more is now known about his background and you’ll be able to catch up on more about Calvin in a soon-to-appear post. Stay tuned!

So what else was happening in the R&B charts in June, 1950? “Safronia B” may have had only the most fleeting appearance amongst the platters that mattered back then, but I’ve compiled a little playlist based on the real “stayers” in the R&B charts that month.

First up is the top selling R&B record of 1950 – “Pink Champagne” by Joe Liggins on Specialty Records. Easily the top selling R&B act of the year was the Johnny Otis Revue on Savoy, thanks to his sensational female vocalist Little Esther. Three of her smashes are in the June playlist – “Double Crossing Blues,” on which she was accompanied by The Robins, and “Cupid’s Boogie” and “Mistrustin’ Blues,” both of which were duets with Mel Walker.

Scan courtesy Joan K
There was more hot jump action from Tiny Bradshaw on King with “Well Oh Well” and two classic blues tracks also sold very well at this time – Lowell Fulson (with the Lloyd Glenn band) on Swing Time with “Every Day I Have The Blues” and Roy Brown’s “Hard Luck Blues” on De Luxe which crashed straight into the charts at number six towards the end of the month. Of interest to those of us who like jazz flavoured R&B is an advert in Billboard from June 1950 in which Prestige Records attempt to market jazz sides as rhythm and blues. Among the discs billed as “America’s newest - hottest rhythm - blues records” are sides by James Moody, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons and Wardell Gray.

Anyway whether you’re an R&B fan or a jazzer, or preferably both at the same time, here’s the playlist for June 1950. Keep checking back for more on Calvin Boze!


hamfat said...

One of my favorite records of all time - Safronia B.
Based on the standard "Dinah".

boogiewoody said...

I never thought about the resemblance to "Dinah." I'd better go hunting for my Fats Waller LP.