Bob Florence

Bob Florence was best known for his big band arranging, as his Grammy award, thirteen Grammy nominations and two Emmys attest. He died last Thursday at home in Thousand Oaks, California, five days short of his 76th birthday. Florence was also a superb pianist and favorite
Florence.jpgaccompanist of singers. In recent years, in a pan-generational surprise, he hit it off with the adventurous young trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Florence and Jensen discovered an affinity in a jazz festival after-hours session and, after that, played whenever they could manage to get together. Unfortunately, they seem not to have recorded.

Of the many albums Florence made with his Limited Edition big band, I find myself going back most often to the one called Serendipity. His empathy and supportiveness as an accompanist are evident in Flight of Fancy, a CD of Alan and Marilyn Bergman songs that he shared with the singer Sue Raney. As a solo pianist, Florence offered a sensitive touch and an arranger’s sense of harmony and placement of chords. His CD Another Side is evidence. Florence was natural, easy-going and inspirational as a music educator. He went out of his way to help school children learn what jazz is made of. The All About Jazz web site, has an excellent, uncredited, appreciation of Florence. There is an extensive obituary in his hometown paper, The Ventura County Star.

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  1. says

    A sad day in music, I am lucky to have had so many chances to hang out with him when I did the jazz camp in Port Townsend, WA. Talking to him about music and life, listening to him make incredible music with so much passion and feel that he could wring tears out of a granite boulder.
    He didn’t so much play music as he painted masterpieces with it.
    Bob Florence was also one of the most generous, gracious, and nicest guys you could meet. A genius with humor, both musically and otherwise, and a passion that showed in everything he did.
    One of my friends is gone now, but I have his music and my memories, and there is no doubt that the world is a better place because he was in it.
    My sincere condolences to his wife, family, and many friends.

  2. Joe Starr says

    I am a graduate in theory and composition from the Juilliard Shool of Music and the Manhattan School of Music here in New York City.
    Many years ago, my son bought me a Bob Florence tape of his big band. His arranging completely blew me away !!
    My condolences go to his family on his death this past Thursday. His talent and greatness will surely be missed !