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Photostory 7: Med Flory

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Today's Med Flory's birthday. Med is a Los Angeles-based saxophonist whose recordings in the 1950s are legendary for their power and swinging out-choruses. After recently interviewing Med here, I received an e-mail from Indianapolis photographer Mark Sheldon, a regular contributor to Down Beat, who sent along a few photos of Med. I loved them so much I asked Mark to provide the story behind the images:

“These photographs of Med Flory were made in May 2008 at the inaugural Med Flory Jazz and Blues Festival, a two-day event held the past two years in Med's hometown of Logansport, Indiana.

“Logansport is a small town located about an hour north of Indianapolis, and the town was proud to pay tribute to one of its own. While Med had left Logansport for New York (and ultimately Los Angeles) in 1951, it was as though he had never left. It was a blast for me to see Med mingling with family members, schoolmates, old friends--many of whom he may not have seen in decades.

“Anyone who knows or has seen Med perform knows how serious he is about his music, but he loves to have a good time, too.

“This night was no different as he was frequently bantering with the crowd between tunes, telling jokes, throwing out a few one liners and leading them in a nice version of Back Home Again in Indiana. He remembered every word and clearly was having a ton of fun, as was everyone in attendance.

“Med is terrific to photograph, and the light falling on Med on this particular night was from the side of the stage and very dramatic, which was nice. Med's bandmates were first-call musicians including Tim Horner on drums, Stan Hillis on alto, Bill Mooring on bass and the great Steve Allee on piano. Stan and Steve are from Indianapolis. Bill and Tim live in New Jersey.

“I was taking photos from behind the stage with Canon digital equipment (no flash) to make a photo of the audience while Allee was soloing. Med must have heard something that Allee played that he liked, because he spun around on his chair with a big smile on his face. That's when I squeezed the shutter to capture the photos here. All of the photos were taken in color. I used Adobe Lightroom to create the black-and-white images.

“At 81 years old, Med was still tearing it up on the alto, playing many great, extended solos throughout the night and giving the younger guys a run for their money!"

All photos by Mark Sheldon. Mark Sheldon/all rights reserved. Photos used here with the artist's permission. To reach Mark Sheldon by e-mail: [email protected]

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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