Doc Severinsen and his Big Band

Swingin’ The Blues


Doc Severinsen, trumpet & flugelhorn

Barbara Morrison, vocals
Ed Shaughnessy, drums

Ernie Watts, tenor saxophone

Tommy Newsom, arranger

Track Listing

1. Intro a la Indigo (Tommy Newsom)

2. C Jam Blues (Duke Ellington)Audio Sample

3. Every Day I Have the Blues (Peter Chapman)

4. Wang Wang Blues

5. (Leo Wood/Gus Mueller/”Buster Johnson/Henry Busse)

6. In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington)

7. Happy Go Lucky Local Blues (Duke Ellington)

8. Doc & Snooky Banter

9. Don’t Touch Me (Theodore Edwards)

10. Topsy (Edgar William Battle/Eddit Durham)

11. What’s New (Johny Burke/Robert Haggart

12. The Hucklebuck (Roy Alfred/Andy Gibson)

13. All Blues (Miles Davis)

14. West End Blues (Joseph Oliver/Clarence Williams)

15. The Supreme Sacrifice (Felton Sparks)

August 1999
Large-Ensemble on Right Track

“Swingin’ the Blues” (***, Azica) by Doc Severinsen and His Big Band focuses, for the most part, on the blues via new renderings of such tunes as “C Jam Blues,” “The Hucklebuck,” “All Blues” and “West End Blues.” The Severinsen ensemble also does a train-inspired piece, Ellington’s “Happy Go Lucky Local.” As with the Lincoln Center ensemble, the arrangements and playing are inspired by an earlier era, in this case, the big-band style of the ’50s, a style familiar to anyone who heard Severinsen’s ensembles on the Johnny Carson “Tonight Show.” (Many of those players and arrangers are included here.) And the work is performed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of musicians whose time in studios has not diminished their creative energies. There is, in addition, splendid soloing from the too often underrated Severinsen, drummer Ed Shaughnessy, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, trumpeter Conte Candoli and vocalist Barbara Morrison, with fine arrangements from, among others, Bill Holman, John Bambridge and Tommy Newsom.

–Don Heckman

September 24-26, 1999

Concert Review – Doc Severinsen Band
House of Blues, West Hollywood
Wednesday, Sept. 22

The former “Tonight Show” band jumped into its latest role, supporting its own record, with a rousing version of a new Bill Holman chart on the grand old Duke Ellington classic “C Jam Blues.”
The stupid, lovable thing really boomed out above the sturdy underpinning of John Leitham, the former Mel Torme bassist, supporting fiery solos by such new faces as Doug Webb, a rising local star on tenor saxophone. Ed Shaughnessy continues to lead the rhythm section on drums, still with his remembered power and poise.

With trend-wise Doc Severinsen, wearing his usual cornball threads, at the podium, the band sounded as great as ever, though it occasionally veered into the Swing Craze zone. Tempos were sometimes a little faster than you wanted, fortissimos a little too strong.

But the hundreds of thousands of hours of musicianship represented on the stand could not be denied, and the night became reasonably joyous. Quite a few happy young people were in the audience; they couldn’t all be grandchildren.

The virtuoso Severinsen, former pops conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic and still principal pops conductor for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, knows his trumpet players, and he’s kept the blues-steeped Snooky Young and Conte Candoli in the section. This gave the group a rare and beautiful ration of guts as they ran down the tracks from their new records, “Swingin’ the Blues,” in the order they appear on the disc.

Not surprisingly, they swung pretty good. But when they got to “Happy Go Lucky Local,” another venerable Ellington piece, arranged by Tommy Newsom, the group stepped up a notch into Olympian territory. Karolyn Kafer led the saxophones for all the world as though Johnny Hodges was channeling the notes, and the tuttis were fruity indeed.

The night’s solo honors went to Severinsen’s exultant treatment of “West End Blues,” on which he tactfully re-enacted the immortal Louis Armstrong solo with the affectionate grace notes, mighty swells and New Orleans drawl of the greatest jazz man of them all.

Barbara Morrison handled vocals, lifting spirits young and old with her hearty account of “Don’t Touch Me,” written by Teddy Edwards, who was in the house.

Bill Perkins illuminated his allotted stretch of “In a Sentimental Mood” with a succinctly conceived baritone sax solo. Webb handled the tenor saxophone spots where you once might have heard Ernie Watts or Pete Christleib, and he did it with his customary tidy passion, not a note out of place, even when he dueled madly on “The Hucklebuck” with section mate Kenny Holcomb.

A glorious churchy number called “The Supreme Sacrifice” closed the show, completed with B-3 organ and climactic growl choruses from trombonist Mike Daigeau and Young, topped out by a proud and ringing high note from the tireless 71-year-old maestro himself.

–Tony Gieske