Bob Florence

Bob Florence was a long-time staff arranger at Liberty Records. He wrote some of postwar jazz’ most challenging and innovative charts. Although the commercial zeitgeist for big-band jazz had long passed, Florence still possessed the brilliance to create large-ensemble arrangements in the style of Duke Ellington. Florence was born May 30, 1932 in Los Angeles. He took his first piano lesson when he was three years old. While attending Los Angeles City College he switched to jazz and pop and formed a band with his classmates, future studio aces Tommy Tedesco and Herb Geller. Florence moved the group’s rehearsals to the Hollywood Musician’s Union local rehearsal room at the suggestion of a friend. This led to a weekly session which quickly attracted many players from the Southern California jazz scene all trying for a place in the band. After graduating, Florence joined Alvino Rey as guitarist, and then he worked for Les Brown and Harry James as an arranger. He led his first Era session in 1958, Meet the Bob Florence Trio. Then, a year later, he was joined by The Name Band, his first big-band performance. Florence worked with Si Zentner from 1959 to 1964, arranging the trombonist’s 1960 hit “Up a Lazy River”. This single was the last big-band commercial success. The shift was further emphasized when Florence and Zentner backed Martin Denny, the space age pop maestro, on the Exotica Suite. Liberty A was convinced by the commercial and creative success enjoyed by Denny and Zentner sessions.

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