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Carl Saunders And Med Flory Plus The John Heard Trio

Charlie O's is one of the top jazz clubs in America (and the world for that matter). On August 5th, their stage was graced by some of the icons of the jazz milieu. Appearing was Carl Saunders (a trumpeter without peer) and Med Flory (the irrepressible founder of Super Sax and an alto player who has long been a star in the galaxy of jazz). Scott Whitfield (recognized by his compatriots as the premier trombonist on the scene today) also made an appearance. Whit came in at the second set, so I missed his brilliance.

I was only able to stay for the first set due to a previous commitment, but it was pure magic. Carl Saunders has the ability to play endless phrases. Just when you think he's got to breathe, out comes a torrent of notes. It's not a series mindless sixteenths, but a true message of melodic beauty. One gets the feeling that Saunders could stay under water for 20 minutes and not come up for air.

Med Flory, Saunders' worthy constituent (as Bird would say) is also a rapid fire, idea filled soloist of the Charlie Parker school. Together they made magic.

"The Song Is You" found Saunders ripping through this number with unparalleled virtuosity. Flory added additional fire to the flames and the ensemble, consisting of Larry Fuller at the piano, Lorca Hart drums, and John Heard on the bass were at their best.

"Lover Man" was a tour de force for Flory and he wove a tapestry of extravagance to this brooding tune of dark longing.

The exchanges were not limited to instrumental conversations. The banter on the bandstand between Saunders and Flory were verbal fours filled with acerbic wit and dark humor. This badinage only added to the enjoyment of the audience, which was as hip as it gets.

Speaking of hip, this gig went right to the heart of it. There was ample time for all to stretch out in this jam session type atmosphere and they took full advantage of it. The quotes slipped by in a fleeting whisper of natural progression without the usual contrivance one hears so often.

Carl Saunders is a truly amazing musician. There is nothing lacking in his playing or any weaknesses. He has it all. Med Flory is as dedicated an artist as can be and years of experience have only added to his bountiful ability to swing.

The rhythm section ably backed this duo with superb accompaniment. Larry Fuller comped nicely and soloed with finesse. Lorca Hart did not step on the soloists and his accents and embellishments were apropos to the messages being laid down. John Heard was, as always, the heartbeat of the band.

Jo-Ann and Charlie have a great venue and top-notch jazz 7 days a week.

Carl Saunders and Scott Whitfield will headline a sextet on August 18th at this same club.

This gig was the real deal.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Carl Saunders
  • Concert Date: 8/5/2005
  • Subtitle: Jazz At It's very best
  • Venue: Charlie O's
  • City State Country: Los Angeles, Ca.
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