published May 09, 2019 | posted by detroit
Boles is a master of many shades of jazz from boogie and blues to bebop. Born in Detroit, he started playing in bars along fabled Hastings Street in Paradise Valley in 1947 and hung out at jam sessions with budding bebop stars like Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Barry Harris, Donald Byrd, Sonny Red, and Paul Chambers. Boles tried New York for a year, encouraged by Harris and Flanagan, but decided to come back to his hometown for a career that allowed him to have a more family-centered life.
He has spent many years as an accompanist for vocalists like Damita Jo, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Pancho Hagood, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mary Wells, and most notably B.B. King — who said of Boles “I want this guy because he can play the blues in any key.”
Most recently, Boles has led a quartet at a weekly gig at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café in Grosse Pointe for six years. That quartet released a CD, Blue Continuum, on the Detroit Music Factory label in late 2013. The group included guitarist Ron English, late bassist John Dana and drummer Gonsalves.