Bob Florence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bob Florence
Birth nameRobert Chase Florence
Born(1932-05-20)May 20, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 15, 2008(2008-05-15) (aged 75)
Los Angeles
GenresJazz, big band, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, band leader
Years active1950s–2000s
LabelsLiberty, Trend, MAMA

Bob Florence (May 20, 1932 – May 15, 2008)[1] was an American pianist, composer, arranger, and big band leader.


A child prodigy, Florence began piano lessons before he was five years old and at seven gave his first recital. Although his early education was in classical music, he was drawn to jazz and big band. He went to Los Angeles City College and studied arranging and orchestration with Bob McDonald.[1] He joined the college big band, and his classmates included Herb Geller and Tommy Tedesco.[2]

Florence spent most of his career with big bands, as a leader, performer, composer, and arranger. After graduating from college, he was a member of bands led by Les Brown, Louis Bellson, and Harry James. His arrangement of "(Up A) Lazy River" for Si Zentner was a hit in 1960,[1][2] and won a Grammy Award.[3] Dave Pell hired him to work full-time as an arranger for Liberty Records. The job gave him the opportunity to write in several genres: bossa nova with Sérgio Mendes, jazz with Bud Shank, and pop vocal with Vic Dana.[2] Bob was the piano player on Bobby Vee's #1 hit "Take Good Care Of My Baby" in 1961[4]

He worked often in Hollywood as a bandleader, composer, and arranger for TV variety shows, hosted by Dean Martin, Red Skelton, and Andy Williams, and he wrote arrangements for the Tonight Show band led by Doc Severinsen. He won an Emmy Award for a program by Linda Lavin (1981) and another for a concert by Julie Andrews (1990).[3]

In 1979 he returned to a recording career that had been sidetracked by other work. Twelve years separated Pet Project (World Pacific, 1967) from Live at Concerts By The Sea (Trend, 1979). His album Magic Time (1984) was the first to be credited to his eighteen-piece big band, the Bob Florence Limited Edition. The band released albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000, Serendipity 18 won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Large Ensemble.[2] He received fifteen Grammy nominations during his career.[3]

Florence died of pneumonia at the age of 75 on May 15, 2008, in Los Angeles.[3]


As leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1958 Meet the Bob Florence Trio Era Records EL-20003; CD reissue: Fresh Sound FSRCD-303
1959 Name Band: 1959 Carlton LP12/115; reissue: Carlton LP12/139 (1962); CD reissue: Fresh Sound FSCD-2008 With big band
1960 Bongos/Reeds/Brass HiFi Records L-1001; CD reissue: Essential Media Group With big band
1964 Here and Now! (Bold, Swinging Big Band Ideas) Liberty LRP-3380/LST-7380 With big band
1967 Pet Project: The Bob Florence Big Band Plays Pet Clark Hits World Pacific WP-1860/WPS-21860 With big band
1979 Live at Concerts By The Sea Trend 523 With big band
1981 Westlake Discovery 832 With big band
1982 Soaring Bosco 3; CD reissue: Sea Breeze SB-2082 With big band
1984 Magic Time Trend 536 With big band
1986 The Norwegian Radio Big Band Meets Bob Florence Odin 18
1987 Trash Can City Trend 545 With big band
1988 State of the Art USA Music Group 589 With big band
1990 Treasure Chest USA Music Group 680 With big band
1993 Funupsmanship [live] MAMA 1006 With big band
1995 With All the Bells and Whistles MAMA 1011 With big band
1997 Earth MAMA 1016 With big band
1999 Serendipity 18 MAMA 1025 With big band
2001 Another Side MAMA 1029 Solo piano
2003 Whatever Bubbles Up Summit 360 With big band
2005 Friends, Treasures, Heroes Summit 430 Solo piano
2006 Eternal Licks & Grooves MAMA 1030 With big band
2007 You Will Be My Music MAMA 1031 Florence (piano) with Annette Sanders (vocals)
2009 Legendary MAMA 1037 With big band

As arranger/conductor[edit]

With Count Basie

With Louie Bellson

With Harry James

  • Harry James...Today! (MGM E/SE-3848, 1960)[5]
  • The Solid Gold Trumpet of Harry James (MGM E/SE-4058, 1962)[6]

With Lainie Kazan

  • on the songs "Sunny", "An Angel Died", "How Can I Be Sure", and "Flower Child", from the album Love Is Lainie (MGM SE-4496, 1968)

With Sérgio Mendes

With Joe Pass

With Bud Shank

With Si Zentner

  • Up A Lazy River (Liberty 1961)
  • Mr. Nashville (RCA Victor 1966)

As sideman[edit]

With Julie Andrews

  • Love Julie (USA Music Group, 1987)

With Sue Raney

  • Sings the Music of Johnny Mandel (Discovery, 1982)
  • Ridin' High (Discovery, 1984)
  • Flight of Fancy: A Journey of Alan & Marilyn Bergman (Discovery, 1986)

With Brian Swartz Quartet

  • Live at the Jazz Bakery (Summit, 2005)

With Bud Shank

  • Girl in Love (World Pacific, 1966)
  • Taking the Long Way Home (Jazzed Media, 2006)

With Joanie Sommers

  • Dream (Discovery, 1980 [rel. 1983])
  • Here, There and Everywhere! (Absord [Japan], 2000 [rel. 2004])

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Voce, Steve (25 August 2008). "Bob Florence: Jazz composer and band leader". The Independent. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Ankeny, Jason. "Bob Florence". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Schudel, Matt (25 May 2008). "Bob Florence; Eclectic Bandleader, Arranger Revered by Jazz Fans". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  4. ^ American Federation Of Musicians contract #51747 - June 14, 1961
  5. ^ "Harry James...Today!". AllMusic. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  6. ^ Lord, Tom (2013). The Jazz Discography (CD) (14.0 ed.).