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Bob Florence

(5.20.32 – 5.15.08)

Bob Florence

Although Bob Florence was not one of the names that I’d heard of growing up in Nanaimo, Canada, he was an artist whose incredible legacy permeated much of my mother’s record collection, through the likes of Harry James and Count Basie, in addition to the classical piano repertoire she played. All of that music I find so present in Bob’s tender touch and spirit.

It wasn’t until 2003, when Bud Shank threw us together onstage in a faculty jam session at the Port Townsend workshop, that I personally met and experienced the artistic brilliance of Bob Florence. I had called a standard, “Alone Together,” and wanted to play an uptempo duo out front with my pal Alan Jones. Bob sat pensively at the piano, with his eyes tightly shut, while we carried out our quasi-masculine trumpet-drum battle. When he came in on the bridge, laying down the now legendary “chord of doom,” it was clear the heavyweight in the room was Bob. After we finished, he simply stated, “I’m getting too old to comp for each bar that’s flying by so I just came up with a chord that worked over the entire bridge.” And indeed it did!

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