Born Calvin B. Boze, Jr., 15 October 1916, Trinity, Texas
Singer / trumpeter / bandleader
Calvin Boze was one of the many West Coast singers who took part in the development of the rhythm and blues scene in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His recordings are often reminiscent of Louis Jordan with their easy going swing and slyly witty lyrics.
Boze began his musical career as a trumpet player in a high school band in his native Wheatley in the 1930s. This band also featured Illinois Jacquet along with his brother Russell Jacquet and tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb. In college he played with the Prairie View Collegians, a group that included Charles Brown. In the early forties Boze branched out as a vocalist with the Southwestern territory band of Marvin Johnson. By the mid-1940s he was a member of the Milton Larkins Orchestra where he was reunited with Illinois Jacquet. Another member of this band was alto sax player and singer Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. After World War II, Boze settled in Los Angeles, where he developed a vocal style patterned after Louis Jordan.
He was signed by Aladdin Records in 1949 and had his first recording session on August 15, 1949. All four tracks from this session were released, first on Aladdin's Score subsidiary ("Working With My Baby"/ "Satisfied") and then the parent label ("Waitin' And Drinkin'"/"If You Ever Had the Blues", Aladdin 3045). His second session, in January 1950, would result in his only hit, "Safronia B" (Aladdin 3055), which went to # 9 on Billboard's R&B charts in June 1950. "Safronia B" is a classic if unsophisticated recording which, with its refrain of "I surrender! I surrender!", epitomises the sense of fun in the West Coast music scene just before the dawn of rock and roll. It was reissued on Imperial 5844 in 1962, the year in which Imperial purchased the Aladdin catalog.
Starting in January 1950, Boze had formed his own band, the Calvin Boze Combo (soon rechristened The Calvin Boze All-Stars), which toured heavily, not only on the West Coast, but also in the North East (including an appearance at the Apollo Theatre in New York) and in the Midwest, with Dinah Washington. Several more Aladdin sessions followed, always with Maxwell Davis and his orchestra, but the sales figures of his later singles did not measure up to those of his earlier efforts. These later recordings include "Looped" (also recorded by Melvin Smith and Tommy Ridgley), "Shamrock", the instrumental "Fish Tail" and "Hey Laudie Miss Claudie" (which preceded Lloyd Price's Specialty recording of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" by five months). Calvin Boze did not record after 1952, but he continued to play at jam sessions around Los Angeles, while also developing a career as a social worker and school teacher, before his early death after prolonged ill health.
Acknowledgements / more information:
The Swedish Route 66 label reissued some of the Aladdin titles on an LP called "Choo Choo's Bringing My Baby Home : 1949-1952" (1999).
In 2004, the Blue Moon label released his "Complete Recordings 1945-1952" on a CD (BMCD 6014, 28 tracks). Recommended. The only two non-Aladdin tracks on this CD are "Just A Dream" (the Big Bill Broonzy song) and "Safronia Bee", which apparently is an earlier (1945) version of "Safronia B". I have not been able to find out for which label these two tracks were recorded.
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