January 6, 2006
A stellar Flory quartet
by Don Heckman, Special to The Times
The USC-Texas game at the Rose Bowl had to be at least partially responsible for the slimmer-than-usual turnout at Spazio on Wednesday, but those who did venture out to the Sherman Oaks jazz restaurant were treated to a display of jazz history by some of the Southland’s finest jazz veterans.
The group was led by alto saxophonist Med Flory, whose credits reach from the adventurous Claude Thornhill and Woody Herman bands of the early ’50s to his establishment of the much-praised Charlie Parker-themed ensemble Supersax. Pianist Marty Harris has been a rhythm section stalwart for decades, and drummer Frankie Capp, a veteran of gigs with Stan Kenton, Ella Fitzgerald and others, has led the Juggernaut Band since the ’70s. Bassist Chris Colangelo, the youngest participant, more than held his own in this company of seniors.
The program was filled with standards — “All the Things You Are,” “Lover Man,” “It’s You or No One,” to name a few — the sort of material that has been part of most musicians’ playbooks since the mid-20th century.
Flory’s solos honored his long-term affection for bebop and Parker without losing touch with his own inner muse. On “Embraceable You,” in particular, he recalled passages from a classic Parker version, then transformed them into his own intimate rendering of the tune. Harris, Colangelo and Capp provided efficient, briskly swinging backup, creating on-the-spot ensemble arrangements, filling in the gaps with their own well-crafted solos.
Halfway through the second set, the quartet was joined by singer Judy Chamberlain. Always an intriguing interpreter of standards, she added a strong dose of rhythmic spunk to the music. Singing a catalytic exchange of phrases with Flory on “You and the Night and the Music,” her participation affirmed the pleasures of straight-ahead, bebop-drenched jazz at its best.
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