Born: July 7, 1927 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
A Grammy award winner, Doc has made more than 30 albums--from big band to jazz-fusion to classical. Two critically acclaimed Telarc CDs with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra showcase his multifaceted talents from Bach to ballads. The Very Best of Doc Severinsen reprises fifteen of Doc's signature pieces. His other recordings include Unforgettably Doc with the Cincinnati Pops on Telarc, and the Grammy nominated Once More With Feeling on Amherst.
He received a Grammy Award for Best Jazz instrumental Performance - Big Band for his recording of Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band-Volume I. Doc Severinsen and His Big Band/Swingin' the Blues is his latest release with Ed Shaughnessy and Ernie Watts.
Severinsen's accomplishments began in his hometown of Arlington, Oregon, population: 600. Carl H Severinsen was born on July 7th, 1927, and was nicknamed Little Doc after his father, Dr. Carl Severinsen a dentist. Little Doc had originally wanted to play the trombone. But the senior Severinsen, a gifted amateur violinist, urged him to study the violin. The younger Severinsen insisted on the trombone, but had to settle for the only horn available in Arlington's small music store -- a trumpet.
A week later, with the help of his father and a manual of instructions, the seven-year-old was so good that he was invited to join the high school band. At the age of twelve, Little Doc won the Music Educator's National Contest and, while still in high school, was hired to go on the road with the famous Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.
However, his stay with the group was cut short by the draft. He served in the Army during World War II and following his discharge, landed a spot with the Charlie Barnett Band. When this band broke up, Severinsen toured with the Tommy Dorsey, then, the Benny Goodman bands in the late 40's.
After his days with Barnett and Dorsey, Doc arrived in New York City in 1949 to become a staff musician for NBC. After years of playing with the peacock network’s studio bands, Severinsen was invited to do a gig with the highly respected Tonight Show Band. An impressed conductor, Skitch Henderson, asked him to join that band in 1962 as first trumpet. Five years later, Doc took over as Music Director for The Tonight Show and stayed with the show until Johnny Carson retired from late night television in 1992.
Bob Baine who played guitar on the Tonight Show Band for twenty years remembers Doc as in search of perfection. “When the band would rehearse in the afternoon, no matter how long of a break we would have on the show, we would all always go across the street, and Doc would practice. He would practice until he just had time to change his clothes and start. I would say Doc practiced four or five hours every day. And if he could, he’d practice eight hours.
Within a week of the final telecast, Doc Severinsen and His Big Band was on the road. Doc's group has been composed of The Tonight Show's best musicians -- Ed Shaughnessy on drums, Ernie Watts on tenor sax and Snooky Young on trumpet. Their repertoire includes Ellington and Basie standards, pop, jazz, ballads, big band classics and, of course, The Tonight Show theme.
Audiences are finally able to hear the depth of talent belonging to a band that rarely played a whole tune on the air. Severinsen can blow the roof off with a trumpet solo, but he is not the only accomplished soloist. Many of his band members get their well-deserved turns in the spotlight. Doc's tour dates are consistently sold out.
For many years, Doc dreamed of building his own horn. At the 2004 ITG in Denver, Doc launched the Destino™ by Severinsen Custom Trumpets. The Destino™ is his dream trumpet, handcrafted one at a time using old-fashioned, craftsman techniques. Each and every Destino™ is played by Doc (and sometimes, road-tested) to insure that each trumpet performs to his exacting standards.
Since moving to Mexico at the end of 2006, Doc has kept a busy performance schedule and made new discoveries in two very talented musicians from Mexico. Together with these gentlemen, Doc has crafted an innovative and exciting program.
El Ritmo de la Vida is, of course, the rhythm of life, a very apt description of Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas and their music. It is classical Spanish with a jazz flair, gorgeous ballads, both Latino and American, plus some great movie music,and among their best received -- gypsy jazz, a la Django Reinhardt. Each are virtuosos and combined are electric. Add to this the soaring trumpet of Doc (not to mention his wardrobe!) and the experience is indescribably brilliant.