Tommy Newsom was the tenor saxophonist with the Doc Severinson-led Tonight Show Band during the Johnny Carson era. Tommy would play second fiddle to Doc, and when Severinson was on vacation or out on a non-Tonight show gig, then Newsom would take over Doc’s role as Carson’s foil, including being the butt of Johnny’s jokes. Newsom would look sheepish and play up the role of being a Midwestern “square.”
However, whenever Newsom picked up his tenor sax and played, his square role would quickly diminish as Newsom could swing with the best of the Tonight show band. On only his second CD as a leader – Arbor’s 2004 release, Tommy Newsom and his Octo-Pussycats – Newsom gets the chance to highlight his prodigious leader skills. This CD is made up of eight standards, and the Newsom original, Titter Pipes.
One of the nice touches on this release is the fact that four members of the octet are from the all female Diva Big Band, led by Sherrie Maricle. Maricle was returning the favor for Newsom arranging several tunes on the Diva Band Arbors release, I Believe in You. The Diva Band members on Newsom’s release besides Maricle are bassist Noriko Ueda from Japan; alto sax/flutist, Karolina Strassmayer from Austria; and Lisa Parott from Australia, on bari sax. Quite the international contigent!
Besides Newsom’s Titter Pipes, the octet admirably tackles Ellington’s In a Mellow Tone; and Kurt Weill’s Speak Low, which features the great Warren Vache on muted trumpet. Recorded direct to digital, this release features the typical Arbor’s warm acoustics. Highly recommended!
Tracks: Titter Pipes, Detour Ahead,, Cinnamon and Clove, In a Mellow Tone, Speak Low, Come Sunday, Poor Little Rich Girl, Maids of Cadiz, Upper Manhattan Medical Group
– Jeff Krow