The Duke and Harry Carney

April 19, 2011   //   1990s, drawings, instruments, jazz, music

Previously uncirculated pen and ink from sketchbook, 1995.

From the 1920s to his death in 1974, Duke Ellington saw musicians come and go. Saxophonist/clarinetist Harry Carney (b. Boston, 1910) devoted 46 years to performing and recording with the maestro. The trusty sideman occasionally conducted the orchestra in Duke’s absence.

After Ellington’s death, Carney was quoted as saying, “This is the worst day of my life. Without Duke I have nothing to live for.” Four months later, Carney passed away.

Flora was an admitted “jazz hound.” He sketched, drew, painted and illustrated jazz musicians and scenes sporadically throughout his career, often as commercial assignments. However, in the final decade of his life, the retired artist devoted a considerable amount of creative energy drawing and painting portraits of musicians he admired from the 1920s through the 1960s. Scores—perhaps hundreds—of such works are in the Flora archives; most have never been publicly viewed.

We’re in the preliminary stages of a Flora jazz exhibition for 2012. Details as plans develop.

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  • The Mischievous and Diabolic art of James Flora (1914-1998). Glimpses of rare works from the archives and news about Flora-related projects.

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