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November 2008

Chris Flory
For You
Arbors Records

“Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it costs them.” So wrote John Updike, and something of the same could be said of jazz. Fortunately, there are always a few who will circle back to retrieve what is best. That’s true for mainstreamer Chris Flory, back now with an all-too-rare set under his own name (only his fifth in a career going back to the ’70s, though the guitarist amassed a respectable set of credentials with Benny Goodman, Ruby Braff, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Carmichael and longtime pal Scott Hamilton, among others).

There’s a delicious irony in the fact that For You opens with a little Hendrix riff in Flory’s tribute to the rock-guitar hero (“JH Blues”). There are a couple of heaters (Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis’ “Bean-O” and former Flory employer Hank Jones’ “Vignette”), two slow burners (“Young and Foolish” and “I Want a Little Girl,” recorded by practically every one of Flory’s jazz inspirations, including Nat “King” Cole, Erroll Garner, Illinois Jacquet and T-Bone Walker) and lots of midtempo bluesy standards from Basie, Forrest, the Gershwins and others. This is (at least on a few tracks) Flory’s first quintet outing, and tenor Dan Block and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso provide some nice punctuation. Still, the show belongs to Flory and longtime pals (Hamilton cohorts all) organist Mike LeDonne and drummer Chuck Riggs. They play with warmth, imagination and such irrepressible swing that everything here, like Fred Astaire’s dancing, seems to float just an inch or so above the ground.

Originally published in November 2008
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