Med Flory, 1926-2014

Med Flory in GrizzlyAlto saxophonist Med Flory was best known to the general public as an actor, but jazz listeners are most likely to remember him as the co-founder and leader of Supersax. Flory died this week at the age of 87. He made hundreds of appearances in television shows and a few in motion pictures, usually as characters in westerns and action flicks. He’s the big man in the foreground in a scene from the 1966 film Night Of The Grizzly. He was a familiar presence in Mannix, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Magnum P.I. and other TV series. Flory once told the Associated Press_MG_1959Med Flory Jazz Wave-L that the acting made it possible for him to keep Supersax together. In 1972 he co-founded the group with bassist Buddy Clark and built it around transcribed and harmonized solos from the recordings of Charlie Parker. Supersax had two alto saxes, two tenors and a baritone accompanied by piano, bass and drums. It often featured trumpet solos by Conte Candoli or trombone solos by Frank Rosolino or Carl Fontana. The band won the 1974 Grammy Award for best jazz performance. From their album with the L.A. Voices, here’s Supersax with “Embraceable You,” instrumental and vocal arrangement by Med Flory in a stunning treatment of the Parker solo.

Through the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, Supersax recorded a dozen albums. Apart from Supersax, Flory maintained active playing until a few years ago. Operating his acting and music careers in parallel, he often took part in big band concerts, jazz parties and the festivals of the Los Angeles Jazz Institute. For a summary of Med Flory’s career, see the obituary by Don Heckman in The Los Angeles Times.

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  1. says

    Med was a very funny man. caught his band at one of Ken Poston’s holiday gigs a couple of years ago, great music, and Med had everybody in stitches.

  2. says

    I met him at Ken Poston’s 4-day tribute to Woody Herman in 1993 and spoke with him the many times I attended Poston’s 4-day events in the LA area over the years. In addition to being an outstanding musician, he and Milt Bernhart, also from Indiana, could have made Big Bucks doing standup. My condolences to Med’s family. Med was also a Woody Herman Society member.

  3. Marlyn Mason says

    I think the last time I saw Med was on a 10 week shoot at MGM, 1968. The movie, THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, Elvis Presley’s next to last film. Med put his stamp on the role of the surly Sheriff and we had one long riotous scene together at the end of the film. I have a a couple of collages of that fabulous 10 weeks and Med is in several of the photographs. I had no idea he was a musician. Jazz genius Bill Kirchner sent me this website and I’m able to hear Med’s EMBRACEABLE YOU.

    I embrace the memory of you, Med! Cheers to your life well lived!

    March 17, 2014

  4. Wayne Tucker says

    Med’s Supersax group was the first album that got me to closely pay attention to Charlie Parker’s tremendous improvisations. It also got me started collecting Parker’s albums. Before Supersax, I had not listened closely to Bird’s brilliance, but hearing Med’s men on my local AM jazz station, WNOP, in Newport, KY, changed all that. It’s interesting that he passed on the same date as Parker. Med Flory truly made a great contribution to jazz.

  5. Ava Flory says

    Thank you for all of your wonderful comments about my Father, Med Flory. He was truly a brilliant individual. He was a great musician and the best Father in the entire universe. I miss his presence in our home. My loving Father, my very best friend for the last 54 years I’ve been alive lives in my heart. the house feels empty but his loving spirit remains. Love you Daddy.
    Your Sugar Face,

  6. James Cimarusti says

    I was fortunate enought to have met Med and last saw him in a panel on his acting career last October at an LAJI event and at other LAJI fuctions s well. I always knew Med as a musician first then an actor so it was interesting hear him talk about the acting side of his career. (One of the film clips shown of Med during the panel was from the Elvis movie mentioned above). I will miss his superb playing and his on stage banter with bandleaders like Frank Capp and Terry Gibbs. Experiencing the bantering was always as much fun and enjoyable as watching Med play. My thoughts go out to his family. Thank you Med for what you brought to Earth. I hope they are enjoying just as much up in Heaven. R.I.P.