Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boots Randolph – Boots with Strings

   Saxophone was one of most featured instruments of 20th century. First in marching orchestras, than as a rare solo instrument with symphonic orchestra, later in dancing bands of late 1930’s, after the war saxophone was promoted to be one of most influential instruments of modern jazz. The same time giants of bebop, cool, free jazz and fusion were developing expressive and artistic possibilities of saxophone family, generations of saxophonists in popular music were expanding sound and stylistic perspectives of their instrument. After period of great expansion in jazz, in short period of time saxophone sound became basic source of expression in dance and popular music. In late 50’s and early 60’s sound of saxophone was common part of almost every band playing dance music. One of great saxophonists in popular music was Boots Randolph.
   Boots Randolph (1927-2007), born Homer Louis Randolph III in Paducah, Kentucky, was one of most influential saxophonists in pop music, one of originators of Nashville sound, many years contributor of Chet Atkins and Elvis Presley recordings. He was learning various instruments, in school mainly trombone, later tenor saxophone. During war he joined army band where he learn enough to be semiprofessional musicians in postwar years. He was playing various local bands in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, until he met famous country mandolin player Jethro Burns, who introduced him to some producers in Nashville and arranged his contact with Chet Atkins. This was beginning of Randolph’s career as saxophonist melting popular music and soft jazz with country music. 

Boots Randolph – Boots with Strings (1966)

   Carefully composed program of 12 hit songs, arranged with strings in best taste of popular music of early 1960’s, makes this album interesting document of its time. From The Shadow of Your Smile to Unchained Melody, with The Beatles’ Yesterday and Michelle, movie blockbusters like Days of Wine and Roses or Moon River – every track had the chance to be remembered. Boots Randolph played it with great sound of new Mark VI Selmer saxophone and in perfect arrangements. Material was recorded in Nashville Fred Foster Sound Studio and Hollywood Western Recorders.
   More ambitious than saxophonist’s earlier recordings, Boots with Strings was also the first successes of artist. Published in late 1966 it was noted on 1967 charts and peaking US albums on 36 position, US Jazz Albums – 3 and R&B Albums – 21. This commercial success was preceded by 1966 single The Shadow of Your Smile. It is interesting how much his sound is associated with popular music of sixties. Boots Randolph was most famous for his 15 LP albums and some singles, many of which were best selling, but he was also active as a sideman in various occasions. For decades he was only saxophonist of The Nashville A-Team, group of more than four dozens of session musicians who were heard on numerous albums of some greatest country stars. This makes his sound is so well remembered. Two and half of star for the album, mainly for exemplary culture of sound and model arrangements.

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