Doc Severinsen will perform with SU group

Posted: March 21, 2013

The Winchester Star

Doc Severinsen

WINCHESTER — For a trumpet player, it doesn’t get much better than hearing Doc Severinsen is a fan of your work.

It certainly was a thrill for Alan Baylock, jazz composer-in-residence at Shenandoah Conservatory. When he first met and played with the music legend a few years ago, it was amazing to think of him as an admirer.

“I am a trumpet player and I had been listening to him all my life,” said Baylock of Fairfax County. “It was a thrill to hear that he had admired me because I certainly admired him.”

The pair will have the chance to work together again when Severinsen performs with the Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday in Armstrong Concert Hall on the college campus.

The performance, part of the Performing Arts Live series, is a boon for the conservatory, said Sloan MacRae, artistic director of the series and managing director of the conservatory. But it is also a caliber of performance he wants people to expect from the series.

“For me, this is what the expectation of artists for the Performing Arts Live series should be,” said MacRae, of Winchester. “They might not all be household names, but they represent the very best of their worlds — be it classical music, dance, world music, new music, or jazz.”

In addition to the concert, Severinsen will offer a clinic today for Shenandoah students, MacRae said. They will get a chance to meet him, and some will even perform for or with him.

When a visiting performer’s schedule allows, the school likes to have them offer clinics or master classes to give students the opportunity to learn from artists of international stature, he said.

Severinsen is well known as the bandleader of the NBC Orchestra on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” from 1967 to 1992. In a career that has spanned decades, he has also released numerous solo and group albums and was a principal pops conductor for several American orchestras.

Add to that, he is still touring and performing at age 85 and doing it in a big way, MacRae said.

“His trademark is these soaring trumpet solos,” he said. “You can’t take your eyes off him as a musician. They are just delightful to listen to.”

When he is onstage, Severinsen has command of the audience, said Baylock, who first met him through the U.S. Air Force’s jazz ensemble, the Airmen of Note. Baylock is chief arranger for the group. Severinsen played with the band in 2011, and it was memorable, Baylock said, because he still performs at such an “incredibly high level.”

“He will admit he is such a ham. He lives to be onstage,” said Baylock, who is also co-director of the Shenandoah Conservatory Jazz Ensemble.

Friday’s concerts will be a combination of numbers by the band playing alone and with Severinsen, he said. Several of the songs will be arrangements by Baylock.

One of those is “September Song,” an arrangement Baylock did specifically for Severinsen. The trumpet player likes to play it “mainly because he gets to play like Frank Sinatra would sing, especially at the end.”

Another song is an arrangement Baylock did of “Over the Rainbow,” which features two trumpet players. Severinsen often performs the piece with Cathy Leach, who is a classical trumpet player. For this concert, he will be joined by Dr. Scott Nelson, a professor of trumpet at the conservatory.

For that song, Severinsen’s trumpet sound is so “big and full” that it takes a classically trained trumpet player to match his sound, Baylock said. “I am more of a jazz guy.”

He and Severinsen met last week to talk about the program, and the latter wanted to include “Well, Git It,” a piece written for the NBC Orchestra, and “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” an arrangement Baylock did of a song made famous by Louis Armstrong.

“Doc is a huge fan of Louis Armstrong, as I am,” he said. “It will be a nice feature for him to play the melody in that ... 1930s and ’40s style of jazz.”

Baylock formed his jazz orchestra in 2001 to have another outlet where his music could be heard. About 95 percent of the music it plays are pieces he has composed or re-arranged if it is an existing work.

The group, which is made up of professional musicians, has a modern sound that is “very brassy and bold,” he said.

Information

Doc Severinsen with the Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Friday in Armstrong Concert Hall on the Shenandoah University campus. Tickets are $25, $23 for seniors and active military, and $12 for students. Tickets limited. To purchase tickets, contact 540-665-4569 or go to conservatoryperforms.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com