Doc Severinsen to headline jazz orchestra

Doc Severinsen

Doc Severinsen

Byron Stripling

Byron Stripling

A doctor whose healing power is music, and whose fame is nationwide — Carl H. "Doc" Severinsen — comes to Naples to blow his sweet trumpet riffs with the Naples Jazz Orchestra on March 25.

Severinsen, a Grammy winner with more than 30 albums, from big band to jazz-fusion to classical, has been playing trumpet since he was 7. At that age, in fact, was invited to join the high school band in his hometown of Arlington, Ore. But he's familiar to all of America as the quick-tongued, sartorially splendid bandleader for the "Tonight" Show during 25 of the 30 years the late Johnny Carson hosted it on NBC.

Severinsen will be playing in tandem with Byron Stripling, artistic director of the Columbus (Ohio) Jazz Orchestra and himself a touring star who has played in the band of Lionel Hampton and in the Woody Herman and Count Basie orchestras. He has starred with the Boston Pops under the direction of Keith Lockhart and John Williams, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Vancouver and Toronto symphonies among others. Byron has also performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

The two men will perform with the Naples Jazz Orchestra. And it happened almost by accident, according to Bob Stone, director of the NJO. The orchestra had played a three-night private event at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, with Stripling and vocalist Carmen Bradford last year, and Stone became friends with Stripling, inviting him to perform with the group this season.

Stripling told Stone that Severinsen had made an appearance with the Columbus orchestra and Stone passed that information on to the players.

"Our members were saying, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could have Doc sometime in the future?' " Stone said. "So Pamela (Carey, the band's business manager) started calling Severinsen's agent, and we started offering dates."

The orchestra hadn't suspected they would be able to book Severinsen this season. But, in fact, Severinsen offer to come, if he could rejoin Stripling for a dual concert, and the March 25 event was cemented.

"He is the last living legend of the big bands. He has been for decades and is still one of the greatest — a master trumpet player. Even at 85, he's blowing the roof off the building," Stone said.

There will be a private benefit reception with Severinsen, who will not be hard to find. His penchant for hot-colored jackets and wildly printed shirts put him in a class by himself visually as well as musically.

For more information about the Naples Jazz Orchestra, see www.thenjo.com. The orchestra's next concert is at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Cambier Park, featuring the music of Henry Mancini. A $5 donation is suggested.

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