So long, Med Flory

(March, 2014)

The thing about Supersax is that the stuff sounds so great really really loud that you can blast it at a crazy party full of rock’n’rollers and they notice, move, swing without even knowing they’re swinging, and finally ask what the hell that is. It’s Charlie Parker. That’s Charlie Parker? Well, it’s a mess of horns all doing Charlie Parker. They spark one up and listen, get lost in it. Just like that the song ends. Let it play through they say. So you leave the album on. Jazz fans are made one at a time.

Rest in peace Med Flory, from me and Phyllis. We had a helluva lot of fun at your gigs–oh those demented nights at Jax–giving you lifts, dropping by your pad. You and that dog of yours. Your stories. Your jokes. Your be bop. You old viper you.

I don’t see the point in writing about jazz, you once told me, it’s like dancing about architecture…but you do it somehow. Keep it up. I just nodded, said thanks, made a joke. Always with the jokes. Two great big guys making jokes.

The problem with old be bop guys is they gotta go one of these days. All the smartassery and fire and craziness and fanaticism and melodic invention disappears with the light. Poof. They’ll come a day when there will be none of them left at all. A whole revolution–Charlie Parker’s revolution–reduced to academia and anecdotes. No mistakes. Just perfection. And you know what death perfection is.

Ah well. The world’s a smaller place when a big lug dies.

This isn’t very good, I know. I meant to say more, say less. Talk about your shows. All these memories piling up. Not sure what goes where. So I winged it. I can hear his laugh.

So long, Med Flory.

[And here is a pick in the LA Weekly for a Charlie O’s gig from 2005.]

On 52nd Street alto saxophonist Med Flory once gave Charlie Parker his last five dollars. Bird paid Flory back bigtime, though, when Med arranged his solos into Supersax. Bird…Med’s eyes light up. The wisecracks cease. He’s one of the kids who heard “KoKo” and flipped. Parker revealed whole new dimensions, musical universes. So what if bop drove the folks away? The hell with popular shit. On this night John Heard will anchor the rhythm section, guests will sit in, Carl Saunders will play miraculous trumpet. The sets will be bop, blues, maybe a casual vocal. Med’ll sit on his beat-up sax case, take a deep breath and blow like a crazy mother, eyes wild, lost in progressions. Then, remembering it’s his 78th birthday, he’ll come up for air, wiping the sweat from his eyes. “I just love to play, man” he’ll say, as the pianist unravels the melody..

(Here’s Supersax roaring through Bird’s KoKo. Play it loud.)

Supersax...Med Flory looming in the middle.

Supersax…Med Flory looming in the middle.

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