Bob Florence

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Bob Florence
Birth name Robert Chase Florence
Born (1932-05-20)May 20, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died May 15, 2008(2008-05-15) (aged 75)
Los Angeles
Genres Jazz, big band, pop
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger, band leader
Instruments Piano
Years active 1950s–2000s
Labels Liberty, Trend, MAMA

Bob Florence (May 20, 1932 – May 15, 2008) 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 Sergio Mendez, jazz with Bud Shank, and pop vocal with Vic Dana.[2]

He worked often in Hollywood as a bandeader, 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 Records, 1967) from Live at Concerts by the Sea (Trend, 1979). His album Magic Time (1983) 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 '90s. 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]

  • Meet the Bob Florence Trio (Era, 1956)
  • Name Band: 1959 (Carlton, 1958)
  • Bongos/Reeds/Brass (HiFi/Essential Media, 1960)
  • Here and Now! (Bold, Swinging Big Band Ideas) (Liberty, 1964)
  • Pet Project: The Bob Florence Big Band Plays Pet Clark Hits (World Pacific, 1967)
  • Live at Concerts by the Sea (Trend, 1979)
  • Westlake (Discovery, 1981)
  • Soaring (Bosco/Sea Breeze, 1982)
  • Magic Time (Trend, 1983)
  • The Norwegian Radio Big Band Meets Bob Florence (Odin, 1986)
  • Trash Can City (Trend, 1987)
  • State of the Art (USA Music Group, 1988)
  • Treasure Chest (USA Music Group, 1990)
  • Funupsmanship (MAMA, 1992)
  • With All the Bells and Whistles (MAMA, 1995)
  • Earth (MAMA, 1996)
  • Serendipity 18 (MAMA, 1998)
  • Another Side (MAMA, 2000)
  • Whatever Bubbles Up (Summit, 2002)
  • Friends, Treasures, Heroes (Summit, 2005)
  • Eternal Licks & Grooves (MAMA, 2006)
  • You Will Be My Music (MAMA, 2007)

As arranger/conductor[edit]

With Count Basie

With Louie Bellson

With Harry James

  • Harry James...Today! (MGM E/SE-3848, 1960)[4]
  • The Solid Gold Trumpet Of Harry James (MGM E/SE-4058, 1962)[5]

With Joe Pass

With Bud Shank

As sideman[edit]

With Bud Shank

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ "Harry James...Today!". Allmusic. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  5. ^ Lord, Tom (2013). The Jazz Discography (CD) (14.0 ed.).