Although the background of saxophonist Sil Austin (1929-2001) was in jazz he enjoyed most of his success in the R&B and pop fields. His big breaks came in the jazz bands of Roy Eldridge and Cootie Williams. In 1953 Austin moved into R&B when he joined Tiny Bradshaw's band.
The saxophonist signed with Mercury Records in 1956 just as rock 'n' roll was hitting its stride and enjoyed a Top 20 record with Slow Walk. It was to be his only significant pop hit, although he continued to record for Mercury for the next 12 years. Some of Austin's LPs sold well, with the most popular proving to be Sil Austin Plays Pretty for the People (1959), where he was backed by a string orchestra.
He made some easy listening albums for SSS International in Nashville in the late 1960s and early '70s, but there was only the odd recording session after that.
(For a first-rate personal reminiscence about Sil Austin go to The Funk Show website.)
Among the many Mercury singles that followed the success of Slow Walk was Hey! Eula (flip side: Rainstorm), which came out in 1958. This stompin' piece of R&B sax and guitar has a rather odd source. The tune was written by Alex North for the soundtrack of The Long Hot Summer, the 1958 Martin Ritt film that starred Paul Newman, Orson Welles and Joanne Woodward. The version on the soundtrack, played by the 20th Century Fox Orchestra, is much more jazzy. Below are both recordings.
Hey! Eula (Sil Austin)
Hey! Eula (soundtrack)
None of Sil Austin's fine recordings for Mercury seem to be available on CD at a reasonable price. All that's on offer are several expensive imports. Best bet to sample some of his Mercury tracks is the download version of the compilation Swingsation, available from Amazon and elsewhere.
The CD compilations Great Sax and Sentimental Sax provide a sampling of his later recordings for SSS, but there is some duplication of tracks. Used copies are reasonably priced.
Birthday Party, which made the R&B chart in 1957, was the followup to Austin's hit Slow Walk.