Getting Acquainted with The Bob Boyd Sounds


 With the renewal of interest in music of the Swing and Big Band Era, The Bob Boyd Sounds, David, Randy, Sim and Bob, are having the time of their lives playing and singing songs from the thirties through the nineties. Word has gotten around that these four guys will knock you out when they play music of the big bands. (They currently have more than 40 engagements on their calendar.) All four of them sing, solo and in harmony, music from Sinatra, the Four Freshmen and the Modernaires, to Stevie Wonder! They play smooth, listenable jazz, if you can manage to keep your feet still. But when they play, unlike much jazz, in their music you can always recognize the melody!

        David Higginbotham's lyrical bass playing (he plays both the old-style standup bass fiddle AND an Alembic Fretless Electric Bass) and his beautiful tenor voice provide the lead for many of their songs, whether they are punching out an Ellington tune or a lovely ballad like "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square", or an old blues tune from Otis Redding. Randy McDonald, drummer extraordinary, also plays piano and bass, is a computer expert and a recording engineer, sings background harmony, and if that isn't enough, sings a mean country ballad or lively pop tune. Bob Boyd, who classifies himself as a "piano stylist" rather than a jazz pianist, plays a variety of piano styles and enjoys singing, too. And of course there's our newest member, Sim Flora, who is outstanding on trombone, flute, and vocals.

        Bob says, "It's such a joy for me to work with David Higginbotham, Randy McDonald and Sim Flora. David, Randy and I formed the Trio almost 10 years ago. David Higginbotham plays upright bass, plays guitar in our mariachi and Italian groups, and sings lead beautifully. He is a superb music director and a very gifted songwriter.

        "Randy McDonald plays drums and sings in the group. He also doubles piano and bass, is a master sound recording engineer at Zanbeck Studios, is a computer expert and is a gifted songwriter. In addition to a busy calendar of private parties, we played at the Unity Church every sunday for 6 years and produced an album of original inspirational music, The Unity Trio.

        Dr. Sim Flora has been a member of the Bob Boyd Sounds for many years. He and Pat Henry were dear friends. Pat has gone home to play in God’s orchestra, Sim has become the newest full-time member of the Sounds.

Sim Flora, world class trombone and flute player, is retired Professor of Theory and Composition at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. After college Sim taught public school in the St. Louis area, worked as a free-lance trombonist, and served as musical director at Six Flags Over Mid-America. He left St Louis to pursue more education and began his 24-year tenure at Ouachita after completing a doctorate at The University of Oklahoma. His recording project, “Sound Doctrine” features many of our beloved hymn tunes arranged and played by Sim in big-band style, with Sounds members Randy, David and Bob providing the rhythm section.

        "All 4 of us are bandleaders in our own right. But the sum is greater than the parts. We have played together so much that we can anticipate each others every move, every note. The joy in playing I first had is back! I enjoy writing vocal arrangements for us. I look forward to every concert, to every tune. Sometimes all our new ideas just tumble over each other in exuberance. Jazz began as fun music and we have put the fun back into it.

        "Everyone tends to want to classify or pigeonhole a band as playing a particular style of music. So far, we have successfully resisted that. We have presented Dixieland, Cajun, Polka, Mariachi, Italian, Irish and Western Swing-style band shows. But most of the time, we play a mix of popular standards, swing and popular jazz from all the decades. All four of us sing lead on some tunes, and we present many tunes in 4 part harmony, a la the Four Freshmen ('Its A Blue World') or Manhattan Transfer ('Tuxedo Junction.')"


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