Category: Rare recording
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While I’m posting Doc playing “Malagueña”, here’s one more from the 80’s with the Ft. Worth Symphony. This is the longest cadenza of any versions I have heard from him on this piece. I got this recording from the late Don Thomas, who was the co-principal trumpet in the symphony at the time, and good friends with Doc. I’m sure Don was playing on this concert, too.
This is the best version I have in video of Doc playing Malaguena. I was at home one night watching TV and found this on a PBS channel. Unfortunately I recorded it at a slower speed than I meant, mainly because in 1981 I was new at video recording at home, so the quality isn’t great. But he played great on that show which was produced in Canada. This was the closing number of the show.
Playing Malaguena pretty much became Doc’s trademark song in the 70’s and 80’s. This performance was with the Texas Tech marching band in the fall of 1970. I was there and heard his performance because TCU was the opposing team that day. I remember watching him play from our perch in the stands. In fact, you can see our purple uniforms in the left side of the screen, as we watch from the stands.
It was super windy that day. If you look closely, you will see Doc have to anchor himself before playing. He was pointed directly into that strong wind, and it was extremely difficult to play under those conditions. The TCU band marched first, and I was whipped from trying to march and play into that wind. I don’t know how Doc played as well as he did that day. This is a rare video from 44 years ago and I’m glad it survived. I have no idea how much they had to pay Doc to come do this performance that day, but it wasn’t cheap since he was already leading the Tonight Show band.
At the same concert Doc played Concerto Barrocco, he played Malagueña, also. I edited the 15 minute piece down a bit, so we could hear just Doc. Doc hired a local rhythm section of professional players from the Dallas area, one being Ernie Chapman, who hired me three times years later to play Doc’s show in the DFW area. This is the best I ever heard Doc play this cadenza.
In March, or April of 1981 I went to hear Doc play with the Plano High school concert band, since I was not working that night. Doc had played at my high school in 1967 with the concert and stage band, but only played with the concert band every year when he would come to Plano. I was disappointed he didn’t use their stage band, but instead hired a rhythm section of Dallas professionals for his jazz part of the show. Plano either didn’t have a stage band, or wasn’t good enough for Doc.
Doc was not known as a classical musician, so whenever he played classical music it was a little bit of classical and pop together. Because of that, the classical musicians didn’t appreciate Doc, and the jazz musicians didn’t appreciate him, either. He was in a world of his own musically, and he was good enough to make it that way. Doc could have been anything musically he wanted in life, but he decided to be a showman in order to make more money. He knew what he was doing. Also, he was old school where a big trumpet sound was necessary to be heard across the ballroom floor.
This was the classical side of Doc, except that no classical trumpet player in the world plays classical music like this. Whatever this is, this is Doc at his best, as far as I’m concerned. It’s also when he was in his prime, age 53. His sound and control of the instrument in all registers is something I’ve never heard from anyone. There are a few great players who could play this piece, like Allen Vizzutti, or Wynton, but they would not have this incredible sound. The piece is Concerto Barrocco.
It was so amazing, I’ll never forget where I was sitting that night, just off to his right side. His sound was filling the large gymnasium we were in so much that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He never missed a note, either. It was one of the greatest moments in trumpet history I had ever heard. I haven’t heard anyone play like this since.
He played two nights, and I think this was from the first night. At the end of the night I did something I had never done before, or since. I asked the sound man for a tape. He agreed and sent me two reel to reel tapes a few weeks later. I’ll post the second night on another post, but the microphones aren’t as good on that performance. But the playing might be better!
I’ve heard Doc play many times, and have even played in his back-up band three times in my career. Even Doc would like this night. The piece was commissioned for Doc by an Air Force band, and Doc had performed it with them a month, or two earlier. He had been working on this piece quite a bit, and it showed. This was never put onto a cd, and even though Plano High made a record of it that year, this is an example of a night in music that could disappear forever, if not transferred and saved. Most people, even Doc fans, have never heard this concert. It was amazing, and still is to hear it.
In 1981 I was already in the musical preservation mode without knowing it. If only I had known I would be running a music museum someday, I might have tried to video tape the night. But I wouldn’t be aware of that until 2005. At least we have the music.
This is a recording of Doc jamming with a rhythm section in 1966 at the National Championship stage band contest in Pampa, TX. Doc had not yet taken over the conducting job at NBC in the Tonight Show band, which didn’t occur until late 1967.
Doc never did much small group playing like this, so it’s great to find an old recording from the 60’s where he was jamming. I edited out the sax and trombone solos in this piece because the tune would have gone for almost nine minutes. Doc was actually the third solo in the piece, which is why you hear an edit after the head of the piece is played. Doc was 38 years old at the time of this recording.
In 1966 the Paschal High School stage band went to the National Championship contest in Pampa, Tx. where Doc Severinsen was one of the judges. Doc was so impressed with the playing of lead trumpet, 15 year old John Thomas, he decided to give John his trumpet. Doc was a Getzen clinician at the time.
in 2011, John donated this trumpet to our jazz museum in Sherman during John’s trumpet clinic at the museum. It’s a great example of what Doc was playing in 1966. Thanks to John for the donation and for being such a good friend through the years.
A rare interview with the founder of the Jazz Studies program at UNT in 1947, Dr. Gene Hall, and Leon Breeden who followed him in 1959. These were the first two directors of the program, which was the first in the country to offer jazz courses for credit. Dr. Hall mentions how the term “stage band” got started. You could not use the word “jazz” in those days in a college setting.
Leon Breeden always knew how to play tunes for the crowd, and since they were going to Russia the next month he chose this big band medley. This is the type of composition that Mr. Breeden would have us sight read on a concert without telling the crowd we were sight-reading. We weren’t sight reading on this performance, but we did it on other performances. He probably didn’t want to take any chances since we were on TV that night. The band hated playing these tunes because we all did it on dance gigs every weekend. However, it was great publicity for the band and we knew it was important to play these tunes.