Pharos-Tribune

Columns

March 19, 2014

KITCHELL: Flory gave us our own version of Club Med

His late wife once described him to “Bonanza” star Lorne Greene as the combination of great leading men all cast in one body.

That characterization served Logansport’s Med Flory well in a career that spanned decades as one of the country’s most successful saxophonists. But without the characterization, it might not have been enough to land Med a role in “Bonanza” as a guest in an episode. Med’s wife, who like Greene was a Canadian, had captured Greene’s attention when she was vying to become Miss Toronto. Greene was a judge on the panel that selected the winner. Her words eventually convinced Greene that her husband had talent, and casting directors eventually agreed.

Such was the story or the odyssey that was the life of Logansport’s only Grammy Award winner. Flory, who passed away last week, was a 1944 graduate of Logansport High School where he played clarinet in the band. He began his performance career by playing at a now-defunct roadhouse known as “The Elms” on Burlington Avenue at the city’s southern tip.

After leaving Logansport for Indiana University just before World War II ended, Flory went on to a jazz career that took him to Europe and Asia and culminated in his metamorphosis of jazz to a style known as “Bird” played by Charlie Parker.

After a 30-year career that included his Grammy and several albums, he returned to Logansport for a concert in 1981 at McHale Performing Arts Center. Those who attended that conference may never forget him singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the conclusion when his voice paused and broke as he sang “I long to see my mother in the doorway” as he recalled his own mother. For all the jazz vernacular he spoke, the places he played and the roles he had, for a moment, he was just as much a homespun Logansport guy as anyone else in the audience.

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