As a follow–up to his Grammy Award–winning big–band album, Serendipity 18, Bob Florence has chosen to record a solo piano album, and one’s response to it will depend largely on his / her musical preferences. This is no whim; it’s something Florence has wanted to do for a long time. He’s been studying and playing piano since he was four years old and gave his first classical recital at age seven. Florence’s big–band compositions and arrangements always lean heavily on the piano for inspiration, and in most cases the piano is his. He has been leading big bands for more than forty years, and made a spectacular recording debut with Name Band 1959, following that with the first of his fourteen Grammy–nominated efforts, Here and Now. And now here he is, alone at the piano again, showing the marvelous technique and flawless perception that have served him so well for so many years. The music is lovely and tasteful but mellow to a fault. Florence has decelerated every number, even Billy Strayhorn’s normally hurried “‘A’ Train,” to a crawl, lowering the heat but never the warmth. While Florence’s love for the music is apparent in every note he plays, this is definitely an album for those who like their music soft and dreamy. Florence has chosen some beautiful melodies, and brings out the best in each of them, from Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” to Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean,” Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge” and Michel Legrand’s “You Must Believe in Spring.” Seventeen of the twenty–two songs are grouped into half a dozen medleys including one dedicated to “My Friend John [Mandel]” (“Theme from M*A*S*H,” “The Shining Sea,” “You Are There”). The others include Enchanting Screen Ladies (“Laura,” “Stella by Starlight,” “Emily”), Sentiments (“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” “Sentimental Journey”), Groupies, Some Waltzes and Saying Goodbye, the last of which closes with an unhurried reading of “Auld Lang Syne.” As we suggested, long on beauty but short on fireworks. If you appreciate a well–played ballad, you’ll take great pleasure in hearing Another Side of Bob Florence.
Contact:The MAMA Foundation, 555 E. Easy St., Simi Valley, CA 93065. Phone 818–985–6565; fax 818–985–6544. Web site, www.mamajazz.org; e–mail email@example.com
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