'Tribute to Tonight Show Orchestra' comes to Loeb Playhouse Oct. 24
Friday, October 17, 2008
Fans fond of the Johnny Carson era on NBC’s “Tonight Show” have a chance to relive the musical fun of the show’s famous big band when the Purdue Jazz Band presents “A Tribute to the Tonight Show Orchestra” at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center.
The Purdue Homecoming weekend show is free and open to the public.
M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of the Purdue Jazz Band, readily admits to being one of many young musicians who grew up marveling at Doc Severinsen’s talents and wanting to emulate the flamboyant musician’s style.
“Doc was my idol,” says Trout. “When I was little my dad would wake me up if they were going to feature the band on the show so I could hear them play. I just couldn’t imagine that anyone could play like Doc.”
Trout, who became a professional trumpeter and educator, knew he had to do a “Tonight Show” tribute when the arrangements the band made famous finally became available in the summer of 2008.
“I got as many of them as I could, and I knew we had a trumpet player in this community who could handle the Doc Severinsen solos,” he says. Bruce Knepper, jazz band director at Jefferson High School, will be put in the spotlight for the tribute concert.
All the tunes on the concert have familiar names – “Begin the Beguine,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” ‘Honeysuckle Rose,” “Stardust,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Blue Moon” to name a few. The “Tonight Show Orchestra” always opted for recognizable tunes but hired the best arrangers in modern big band jazz to give then a unique take on the tunes, Trout says.
He gives Johnny Carson, who was a devoted fan of big band music, credit for creating the now legendary orchestra. “Carson bent over backwards to keep a good big band on his show,” Trout says, and regularly carved out time for the band to play full tunes, something that rarely happens on the late night shows today.
Members of the “Tonight Show Orchestra” were a who’s who list of Los Angles most talented musicians and big band alumni from the original bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others.
The Purdue concert will particularly feature arrangements by Bill Holman, John Bambridge and Tommy Newson. Any one of the 13 tunes on the concert could be the centerpiece of a whole concert, Trout says. Several of the arrangements won Grammy Awards after being introduced by the “Tonight Show Orchestra.”
“Instead we have them all on one concert. Musically, it’s incredibly challenging.”
Besides the music, the concert’s staging and lighting will emulate the look of the “Tonight Show” and Trout promises he’ll throw in a few other surprises reminiscent of the Johnny Carson era of the late night show.
The whole concert will be filmed by Purdue video classes for presentation later on BTV, the Purdue television network.
The concert is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestra which offers a series of jazz, concert band, orchestra and percussion events throughout the year.
Forward to a Friend