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Tonight Show Band, Carson era

Discussion in 'Jazz on A&M/CTi/Horizon and Others' started by Silentseason, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. Silentseason

    Silentseason New Member Thread Starter

    I just recently had Antenna TV added to our local TV lineup, and one of the shows they have is the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, even going so far as to airing it at 11:30. This is wonderful, but one quirk I think I notice is that during the return from commercial breaks new music has been placed in over the original Tonight Show Orchestra. This is disappointing to say the least. I don't know if anyone here at the forum has seen these or not, but if so was wondering if they noticed the same thing I did regarding this. This said...

    ...it has been such a treat to see the shows again, and all the memories of the Orchestra have come flooding back. Such an incredible group of musicians. From my era of watching it (80's to the end in '92) some of the names: Ross Thompkins, Ed Shaughnessy, Snooky Young, Pete Christlieb (who I actually saw in concert in '86), Conny Condoli, ... others whose names I can't recall. Besides the musicianship, the entertainment they brought was really funny when they were spotlighted: Doc and his outrageous getups, Tommy Newsome and his blandness, Shelly Cohen as the "third guy", stump the band which was always really funny, the "Tea For Two" tapdance from Ross and Ed when Johnny was struggling with his monologue, and other memories too numerous to mention. I have seen some of the threads here in the Jazz forum and see that many have sadly passed on. I was wondering if anyone here has any memories they are willing to share of this great group of musicians from a TV show that still hasn't been topped, IMO.
    Bobberman likes this.
  2. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I loved the Carson era of the tonight show Stump the band was A Real favorite bit for me among many Tommy Newsome's blandness fit the show as well as Doc's contributions were Legendary especially when filling in for Ed during " Carnac the Magnificent" there was just too many wonderful memories of everything involved to list.
  3. I got to attend a Carson TONIGHT SHOW taping during a trip to L.A. back in the 80s sometime. We had scheduled a trip to L.A. to visit an aunt, go to Disneyland, and do some sightseeing. At the time, the radio group I worked for had an AM-FM combination in Los Angeles, and I popped in to say "Hi." The general manager was very accommodating in showing us around and offering us tickets to that evenings taping of THE TONIGHT SHOW. He must've had connections because all we had to do was show up at the box office and mention our name.

    It was a Monday show that we saw. Johnny himself was just coming back from a week's vacation so this was his first show back. There was just one guest that night, Buddy Hackett. Naturally when the show went to commercial, Buddy got ever-so-much-more raunchy in his jokes and language, but as soon as the lights came back on, he cleaned up his act. It was quite the eye-opener.

    Ironically, I've only ever been in the audience for two network television shows, as I got to attend a game show in New York on a high school trip. Ironically, that too was an NBC show, and ironically, also contained Ed McMahon - he was the host of SNAP JUDGEMENT.
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  4. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I'm pretty sure Jack Sheldon and Don Menza were both in the Tonight Show Band back in the day.
    Bobberman likes this.
  5. I think Lee Katzman was in the band at some point also.
  6. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I have a direct-to-disc LP from decades ago that if I recall, touted itself as a "Tonight Show Band" LP without coming right out and really saying it. It's under Tommy Newsom's name and features Doc as a soloist. Musically it is OK, but nothing I play much. (The problem with direct-to-disc records is that they cut an entire side of the album in one pass, so if anyone made a bad mistake, they would have to scrap the lacquer and start over. As such, the musicians often played very "stiff" and straight ahead in these recordings, so they would not make any mistakes.)


    Credits (courtesy of discogs.com):

    Arranged By, Conductor – Tommy Newsom
    Bass – Joel Dibartolo
    Drums – Ed Shaughnessy
    French Horn – Arthur Maebe*, David Duke, Richard Perissi, Vince De Rosa*
    Guitar – Peter Woodford, Tom Tedesco*
    Harmonica – Tommy Morgan
    Percussion – Dave Anderson (28), Gene Estes
    Piano – Ross Tompkins
    Trombone – Chauncey Welsch, Frank Rosolino, Paul Faulise
    Trumpet – Charles Findley*, Doc Severinsen, Johnny Audino*, John Frosk, Maurie Harris*, Snooky Young
    Woodwind – Bill Perkins, Bob Tricarico, Don Ashworth, Joe Soldo, Walt Levinsky

  7. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    There was an album or two by Doc Severinsen with the original Tonight Show band. I was never a fan of his music except in small doses....his playing is too over-the-top for me, but then I'm not really a jazz fan so it's not surprising.

    To the point about the show's bumper music in the original post: They have to trim most of the band's music out of the reissued shows in order to avoid paying hefty license fees for the songs. It's too bad, but that's what enables entities like AntennaTV to play the shows -- if the music was all licensed, it would probably be unaffordable for them.
  8. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    Doc cut two albums with Henry Mancini in the 70s--Brass On Ivory, and Brass, Ivory and Strings. They are musically good but a little sleepy overall, pleasant but not all that memorable. Mancini cut more potent jazz back in the late 50s through the mid 60s.
    Bobberman likes this.
  9. Silentseason

    Silentseason New Member Thread Starter

    Thanks all for the recollections. I figured that there was a licensing issue as to why the original bump music was removed (I am a big Fugitive fan and the same thing happened with Pete Rugolo's original music when the series was issued on DVD initially). It never occurred to me that there were several A&M/TJB musicians in the lineups. I wish they would have saved the tapings from the 60's when the BMB made appearances on the show when it was in NYC.
  10. Here's another by Milton DeLugg when he ran the band in '66. He wasn't show-biz enough so he was replaced by Doc.
  11. Seems this was all covered before...but here's Skitch's album.

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