Blue Mist : The (short) Story of Bo Rhambo©2006JCMarion


Ewell Goldyn Rhambo was born in September of 1923. He would one day be known as "Bo" Rhambo, an accomplished R & B tenor sax and trumpet man who unfortunately did not gain the greater success as some of his contemporaries that were also part of the Los Angeles music scene centered around Central Avenue in Watts during the late nineteen forties. Rhambo first came to notice as part of the Honeydrippers band that backed up Joe Liggins, one of the true R & B pioneers. His tenure in the band during the early fifties was during the big transition in music and the musical stock of Liggins and others began to wane as the teenage rock 'n rollers took over the market. In the summer of 1952 and on into the following year Rhambo was a featured second tenor sax in the combo of Joe Houston one of the top honkers on the West Coast. The band played many recording sessions during those years for a number of independent labels based in L.A. After leaving Houston, Rhambo formed up his own combo, soon pared it down to a trio and began to make personal appearances up and down the coast of California. By 1956 he had signed a recording contract with Cash Records which was owned by John Dolphin (along with the like named Money Records) a well known local music figure. "Move It On Out" and "Lost In A Daydream" were recorded and issued on Cash # 1037. This was followed by "Blue Mist" and "Diane" on # 1047, and the next year by "Jump Time" and "Indian Love Call" on # 1050. In 1957 Rhambo was also becoming known as an accomplished trumpeter, and with the tenor sax had a talent for the unusual double threat. Throughout the summer of the year Bo and his trio played for three and a half months at L.A.'s Club Intime, and followed up that stint with another extended stay at Barry's Lounge.

In 1958 the Bo Rhambo Trio is still a decent draw for in person appearances. A two week engagement at San Francisco's Macumba Lounge and then back to Los Angeles for additional club dates proves the night club attraction for Bo and the guys. They enter the Hillcrest Club for an extended stay on the bandstand. In May of the year Don Robey of Peacock and Duke Records in Houston, Texas, signs the Bo Rhambo Trio to his label. It's back to San Francisco and a booking at the Booker T. Washington Hotel in that city. In June Imperial Records purchases the master recording of an album session by Rhambo and will release it on the label within a few weeks. The album is called "Diane" after one of Rhambo's most requested songs and is released on # 9054. In July Imperial releases "Blue Mist" and "Diane" on a single on # 5529 which had previously been issued on the Cash Records label. Rhambo and his combo appear at the annual Cavalcade Of Jazz at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Also on the bill are Ray Charles, Little Willie John, and Sam Cooke. In August "Bewitched" and "Southside" recorded by Rhambo and his group will be released by Don Robey's new Progressive Jazz label on # 800. In November "Indian Love Call" and "Lost In A Day Dream" is released on Imperial # 5552.

After 1958 Bo Rhambo recorded infrequently. Capitol released "Two For The Blues" and "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody" on # 5650, and then quickly re-issued the record with the song "With Blues In My Heart" replacing "A Pretty Girl" on # 5657. In 1960 "Annie Laurie" and "In My Wildest Dreams" was released on Capitol # 5698. In 1962 Capitol re-released their 1958 album by Bo Rhambo of "Diane" and this time it was presented in stereo. Other LP albums for Capitol were "Enchanted Melodies" on # 9054, "An Enchanted Evening" on # 9100, and "Tender Moments" on # 9110. Rhambo had become something of a bluesy sophisticate, giving his interpretation of many standard tunes in a way that was similar to the way taken by Earl Bostic and Wes Montgomery among others. By the time the British Invasion took over the music scene Bo Rhambo was another musician that came of age in the R & B days of the late forties and survived for a time until the sound had morphed into rock and then was turned inside out again in the mid sixties.

The only available cds that contain the musicianship of Bo Rhambo are compilation units that feature Joe Liggins, Joe Houston, or may have one or two songs under his own name (usually "Diane") showcasing the leading tenormen of the day. And of course - there are always the auction lists. Bo Rhambo is one of many players back in the day that have lapsed into obscurity and there is a real shortage of information about their contributions to the world of American music. That is why these efforts will continue to keep the record of their accomplishments from fading into thin air.

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