Back in the 1930s, when swing music was king, a young guitarist named Charlie Christian took a seat in Benny Goodman's orchestra and, through his endlessly inventive playing, helped define the role of-the modern jazz guitar. Even though he died at 23, Christian left a stylistic legacy of rhythmic tension and release, creating a full, flexible sound that jazz guitarists have been cadging and copying ever since.
One such self-admitted disciple is Flory, 36, who is best known for his work with tenor saxman Scott Hamilton's quintet and who also played numerous concert dates with Goodman's smaller combo. Along with his fellow Hamilton quintet pals—bassist Phil Flanigan, drummer Chuck Riggs and pianist Mike LeDonne—Flory has put together a delightful compilation of jazz standards, plus two original tunes, that make his debut CD a swing feast to savor.
Flory's relaxed style, playing to but never hurrying the tempo, and his bluesy chord shadings are especially evident on the relatively obscure ditty "Tain't Me" (which, according to the liner notes, Flory once heard Nat Cole perform) and on his own "Ninth Avenue Shuffle," where you can hear echoes of the pearly style of another of Flory's guitar heroes, Texas bluesman T-Bone Walker.
LeDonne's swirling organ accompaniment on such favorites as "Close Your Eyes" and the Goodman goody "Soft Winds" lends these selections an even breezier swing flavor.
"Air Mail Special" is the one number co-written by Christian—it was one of the Goodman sextet's standbys—and Flory does a handsome job capturing the flying single-line soloing and the sense of propulsion that were two of Christian's trademarks.
This is a welcome first recording, one whose pleasures will be particularly rewarding at the end of your all-too-post postmodern day when what you really want is to get into a good old-fashioned groove. (Concord)