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JAZZ REVIEW : Med Flory's Big Band Venture

September 25, 1992|LEONARD FEATHER

A new chapter has been added to the Med Flory story.

Tuesday at the Moonlight Tango, the saxophonist-singer-composer-arranger revealed his latest brainchild. It's a group that includes Super Sax, which he launched 20 years ago; the L.A. Voices, added to Super Sax a decade later, and a brand-new brass section of Valley veterans to bring the complement up to 19.

What he does with this imposing array of talent is not basically innovative by today's standards. A couple of tunes by the vocal quintet add a 1940s flavor. So did almost everything else, but sometimes with good reason. The Super Sax numbers, based on old Charlie Parker solos, have lost none of their flamboyant verve.

"Lester Leaps In," adapted from a magnificent Parker improvisation, found the group taking on a new aspect as the brass section tossed in punctuations. This enabled the Saxes to turn their multiple manuscript pages in an incredibly long and demanding performance, executed with demonic accuracy.

The references to other 1940s giants involved Lionel Hampton and Illinois Jacquet in "Flyin' Home," and a Charlie Barnet salute in "Skyliner," for which lyrics were added both to Barnet's original theme and the Billy Moore counter-melody, providing the L.A. Voices (Flory doubling as vocalist) with their best challenge.

Flory's own composition "Run for Woody," a tribute to Woody Herman, and a brief, pointless wrap-up with "Flight of the Bumble Bee" rounded out a set that worked generally well as proof of his diversity. The strong lineup included trumpeters Chuck Findley and Conte Candoli, lead singer Sue Raney and the powerful drummer Frank Capp.

The only problem was a noisy audience, not unusual at this venue, though the band proved powerful enough to overcome this obstacle. But Flory's new foray deserved to make its way out of the clubs into the concert halls and festivals around the United States and Europe.

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