Severinsen’s lip delivers — even at 84

by Tom Ineck
Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 12:15 am

Contrary to some advance publicity, Doc Severinsen’s appearance Monday night at the Lied Center for Performing Arts was not a program of classical Spanish, movie music or gypsy jazz.

As expected from the 84-year-old trumpeter and his 16-piece big band, the “Once More with Feeling” tour, his first with the big band in five years, is firmly grounded in the grand Swing Era tradition.

Severinsen’s band no longer is comprised largely of “Tonight Show” veterans, but he did have one ace up his sequined sleeve. Longtime band member and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts was the go-to guy on many occasions during the two-hour concert, attended by 1,600. He was brought to the microphone on the swinging opener and seldom sat down long enough to warm his seat.

Featured singer Vanessa Thomas exhibited impressive pipes on “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Smile,” “When You’re Smiling,” “Everyday I Have the Blues,” and “Mood Indigo,” and young drummer Stockton Helbing did an admirable job on the classic rave-up “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

But it was the big band that delivered the goods on such swingers as “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” “Flying Home,” “Caravan,” “One O’Clock Jump” and “Sax Alley,” a furious tenor sax blowing contest between Watts and Chip McNeill.

Amazingly, Severinsen proved that he still has the lip and the technique to play with power, precision and stamina, frequently stating the melodies and hitting the high notes on trumpet. He used a plunger-muted horn on “St. Louis Blues,” took the lead on “Georgia on My Mind,” and inserted some well-controlled trumpet blasts on “Here’s That Rainy Day,” which he announced as Johnny Carson’s favorite tune.

Severinsen’s playing and bandleading certainly quashed any doubts that at 84 he might have lost some of his famous panache.

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  1. Thomas Martin
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    For as long as I can remember since I started to become the world’s greatest trumpeter, player, I knew that Doc Severinsen already had that sewn up, so I have settled on practicing his arrangements, and listening to his records. My wife and I went to hear his concert some years ago in Portland, Oregon’s then fine new auditorium, and can still hear the stratospheric notes soaring out of his horn. He has a three year start on me, but what do they mean being surprised that he has not lost any of his panache at 84? Think of all those morning practice hours he has racked up! He doesn’t age, he youngers! Best regards to him; his music resounds through my house regularly.

  2. Katie Schultz
    Posted July 20, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I said to Doc after a concert many years ago, “You are one the greatest trumpet players in modern times.” and Doc said, “Well… I’m the loudest!”
    Doc will always be amazing. Incredible musician. What a gift. Plus, what a great personality and mentor. The best. Thank you Doc!

  3. Linda Dunkly
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I reslly enjoyed your show tonight in Chico. You still really have it.

    What a treat! Thank you.

  4. Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I have long been a fan of Doc’s. The
    last time that I saw him in person was
    with Johnny Carson at Melody Land, in
    Anaheim. (Long time defunct) I think he
    is the Greatest Horn player ever. And
    miss seeing him and hearing him. Glad he
    is doing well. :)

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