Put trumpeter Bernard Flood together with vocalist Ma Rainey and multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers and the listener is likely to be drenched. One of the more obscure members of the damply named jazz club was a graduate of Atlanta's famed Tuskegee Institute in the '20s. The following decade Flood trickled into New York City, becoming associated with a series of bandleaders in a slow and careful fashion. For the first two years he worked with Bob Neal, moved over to Fess Williams for about an equal length of time, became involved with Teddy Hill in 1933 through the middle of the decade, then was quickly in and out of the Luis Russell and Chick Webb outfits before joining up with Charlie Johnson.
By 1937 the trumpeter was hitting high notes with Edgar Hayes as well as Johnson, the former leader launching a terrific European tour. In 1939 Flood became part of Louis Armstrong's big-band project, dropping out for a spring 1941 James Reynolds gig before rejoining Satchmo's machine of marvel through 1943. At that point the military, an organization that only thinks it is more powerful than Louis Armstrong, dammed up the Flood within the walls of its bases. He flowed loose in 1946 to work with both Luis Russell and Duke Ellington, as well as to start up his own combo. Flood collaborated with the never depressed Happy Caldwell in both the late '40s and early '50s.
His retirement from full-time music was noted by biographers in the early '70s. Flood still was available for gigs, but didn't make any new recordings during this period. He eventually suffered from diabetes and lost both of his legs due to the effects of the disease. Despite the wonder of many of the fine recordings this man appeared on, his most compelling public performance is easily in the HBO documentary entitled Curtain Call, a portrait of several residents from the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ. This is an assisted living facility where Flood was being cared for at the time the film was made. He is featured performing a great version of "Wonderful World," a song associated with his former boss Armstrong.