Med Flory

(LA Weekly, 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 “Ko-Ko” 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 79th 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.

Cow Bop: Too Hip For the Room

2011: Bruce Forman asked me to write the liner notes for the new Cow Bop album. I don’t want the usual jazz liner notes, he said. Just write like your usual crazy self. Just start riffing. So I riffed a take. I like this, he said, got another? I riffed another, and another. Yeah, he said, I like these. Anymore? So I dashed off another. That it? I gave him one more. Five takes. That enough? Yeah, this is great. I’ll use one for the CD, he said, and another for the website, and he cut me a check. Cool. Can’t remember which of the five he used, though. But if only all liner note gigs were like this.

Cow Bop Take 1

Too Hick For the Room my big city ass. Sounds just right by me. This town, hell this world, needs a lot more Bob Wills. Western Swing is air you can breathe, smoky and boozy and dudes out in the parking lot fighting. Inside the honky tonk everyone’s grooving and swinging, hell there’d be dancing with the ladies if all them uppity jazz swells and slick hipsters would or could take a step or two. Man, can these cats play. Cow Bop ain’t no country radio band (not yet anyway), ain’t no jazz band either, but mama they sure swing, and yup that’s some pure Charlie Parker you’re hearing there in that mind blowing guitar solo. Bruce Forman that cat is, a barbed wiry, smirking smartass in a Stetson. The fiddler trading licks with him is Phil Salazar, and the hottie singing sweetly in the middle is Pinto Pam. Hands off, fellas, she sizzles. A dude I knew heard this album just once, jumped into his car and headed straight up the Grapevine where the mule deer and antelope play. Bakersfield is up that away, he said, next best thing to Amarillo. They got pickup trucks there, and cows and oil fields and chicken fried steak, and they got the Silver Palace and Merle and honky tonking Saturday nights. They got Cow Bop? No, he said, but they should. Best western swing in the land.

Cow Bop Take 2

Never expected to see something like CowBop in a jazz club. Saw ‘em take the stage in cowboy hats, pronghorns glued to the bass drum, singer in a long cowgirl dress. The regulars in the jazz joint stared over their cocktails, not getting any of this. The music was lightning fast, kinda swingy but awfully down home too. And man could those cats play. Solos zipped back and forth from fiddle to guitar and back again. Damn if that smartass guitar player wasn’t quoting Charlie Yardbird Parker. And ol’ crooked horn Dizzy too. And a lot of Bob Wills. The pretty girl sang about Texas, and dancing, and drinking, and men doing ladies wrong. By set’s end I was hooked, line and sinker. Y’all got any records? They said they had a couple. We got a new one we’re working on too. Yeah? Any good? Goddamn right it’s good. It’s gonna make us stars. And they packed up their gear and tossed it in the back of an old red Chevy pick up and took off in a cloud of dust. Well, that new one is this one here, Too Hick For the Room. Hot damn. What they call great driving music. That long stretch of highway between Tulsa and Bakersfield went by in a flash. Cow Bop.

CowBop Take 3 Continue reading