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At the age of 60, Dwight and Dwayne Bosman, known professionally as the Bosman Twins, continue to do what they’ve been doing since the age of 14 – play music together. This Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1 and 2, the Bosman Twins will headline Jazz at the Bistro, backed by a talented group of area musicians; Ptah Williams on piano, Eric Slaughter on guitar, Jeff Anderson on bass and Demarius Hicks on drums.
As usual, the Bosmans will play an array of woodwind instruments, ranging from tenor and alto saxophone (Dwayne and Dwight’s primary instruments) to soprano sax and a variety of clarinets and flutes. And as they always do when they perform, the Bosmans will bring an infectious enthusiasm and energy to the Bistro stage. It’s an approach they learned from their father, Lloyd Smith, an alto saxophonist and flute player who worked with such famous St. Louis bandleaders as Fate Marable, Charles Creath and Dewey Jackson – and later played with legends like Earl Hines and Duke Ellington on the national jazz scene.
“By the time Dwayne and I were 10 years old, we were going to jazz clubs on Saturdays with our father,” Dwight Bosman said, as he and his brother talked over lunch last week about their musical careers. “And by the time we were 14, we were sitting in with musicians at those clubs,” adds Dwayne. “And we’ve been playing together ever since.”

College in Florida

Dwight Bosman started playing clarinet and Dwayne began his musical education on flute. But by the time they headed off to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee – both on music scholarships – they were focused primarily on playing saxophones.
After graduating from A&M, where they also were members of the university’s famed “Marching 100” band, they both found jobs at Busch Gardens in Tampa, where they became members of the Desert Suns band that was a popular attraction at the theme park.
“That was a good experience for us,” recalls Dwayne. “It really taught us how to deal with audiences. There were all kinds of people coming to Busch Gardens, and we had to appeal to all of them and do it very professionally.”
The Bosmans returned to St. Louis in 1980, and immediately found a steady booking at the Moose Club, one of the top jazz spots in north St. Louis. On Pope Avenue off West Florissant, the Moose may have been an out of the way location for music. But during the late 1970s and 1980s, the club became the place to hear jazz on weekends, with the Bosmans often playing with national musicians who headed for the Moose’s jam sessions after their performances were over.

Can’t play clubs all the time

The Bosman Twins played at the Moose for 15 years before deciding to change their approach to musical performances in the late 1990s.“We loved playing at the Moose,” Dwayne said. “We booked our first European tour at the Moose. But at a certain point, you just can’t keep playing clubs all the time.” “I’m really not sure how we made it,” Dwight added. “We were playing 5 or 6 nights a week – and teaching and working during the day. You can do that when you’re in your 20s and 30s, but eventually, you have to make a change.”
For the Bosman Twins, that change involved a focus on more private performances – both at fund-raisers for organizations and at corporate events around the country. And as a result, the duo’s public performances – especially in the St. Louis area – became much less frequent.
“We’ve been focusing on the private events for more than a dozen years now,” Dwayne said. “Recently, we’ve played benefits for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the University of Missouri Health Care’s Ellis Fischel Fundraiser and the Lupus Foundation’s heartland chapter. We’ve also played at festivals in Europe and the Bahamas, as well as doing private events across the U.S. So it’s a way of life for us.”
Dwight’s son, Dwan Bosman, is also a musician based in the Atlanta area. As a result, Dwight and Dwayne have performed in the Atlanta area several times as well. But the Bosman Twins still enjoy public performances. In addition to their upcoming weekend sets at Jazz at the Bistro, the brothers organize special performances twice a year at BB’s jazz, Blues and Soups here in St. Louis.
“For the concerts at BB’s, we have friends fly in and play from Portland and Atlanta,” says Dwight. “And it becomes a special thing, and people enjoy it because it only happens every now and then. And we really want to make our Jazz at the Bistro appearance special too.” “We’ll be doing a variety of music,” says Dwayne. “In addition to straight ahead jazz, we’ll also be playing some ballads and blues. And we’ve got a tribute to Thelonious Monk as well as one for Ellington’s music. But we always make sure that we’re not playing the same tunes you hear everyday from other bands. We’ve got a great band and we’re looking forward to it and raring to go.”

Write and go into studio

The Bosmans are also looking to finally do something that’s been on their bucket list for many years; go into the studio and record their first CD. “It just seemed that with everything else we were doing, we just never found time to do it,” Dwight said. “But I retired earlier this year from teaching as the band director at Central Visual Performing Arts School, and Dwayne has the time now as well.”
“So that’s the next major project,” Dwayne. “It’s on the immediate horizon. We’re finally at that point in our life where we can fully focus and put our full concentration on writing and recording music. We finally will have the time to sit down and write and go into the studio. “
“I think we are really enjoying where we are now musically,” Dwight said. “We’ve reached a stage where we have maturity with our music. But at the same time, we definitely don’t want to lose the energy we’ve always had in performance.” “I think If you don’t have fun playing, why are you doing it?” Dwayne said. “And when you play, also do it with class and finesse — like Ellington, Basie and Earl Hines. Be ambassadors for the music.”