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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Doc Severinsen: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

On Friday night I had the privilege of hearing Doc Severinsen solo with the incredible Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen.  The writing, the ensemble, the communication and DOC SEVERINSEN! This guy is 85 years old.  That is not a typo, 85 years old, and is still playing his tail off.  I was accompanied by Joe Alessi to the concert and beforehand Joe said "Doc might be the greatest brass player of all time." If you know Joe, you know that he doesn't throw superlatives like that around too often.  He said no qualifiers and there was no context.  He is simply one of the greatest brass players of all time.

I wish I could tell you that Doc sounded good "for an 85 year old." He sounded good, end of sentence.  I'm not sure I've heard anyone be able to get more tone, more substance, on fast, passing 16th notes than he did a few nights ago.  It was truly incredible to witness.

After the concert Joe got us backstage and I got to hear the two of them reminisce and tell stories for about 15 minutes.  It was amazing.  The last thing I said to Doc before we split was "Every single phrase you play is #@$%ing master class.  It's truly incredible." I hope he knows I was serious.

This is Doc playing on the Jack Jones Show in 1977.  First is MacArthur Park followed by I Can't Get Started.  It will take your breath away.