Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Tommy Newsom: Friendly Fire

Many readers will remember Tommy Newsom as Doc Severinsen’s assistant conductor and occasional comic foil with the Tonight Show Orchestra. But although Pete Christlieb got most of the band’s tenor solos, Newsom is also a fine Zoot Sims-inspired tenor player himself. His Friendly Fire pairs him with veteran West Coaster Bob Enevoldsen on valve trombone in a sextet that harks back to those ’50s groups that teamed Bob Brookmeyer with Zoot Sims or Stan Getz. Assisted by pianist John F. Hammond, guitarist Bob Bain, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Dave Hunt, Newsome and the band sail through a familiar set that ranges from such classics as “Star Dust” to the more recent “Rainbow Connection.” The 13-tune program also includes Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce,” Jobim’s “Corcovado” and several Ellington compositions. On Duke’s “Cotton Tail,” Newsom and Bain honor tenorist Ben Webster by delivering a unison note-for-note rendition of part of his famous 1940 solo. Hammond’s dancing, hard-bop piano and Bain’s fluid guitar complement the front line with strong solo voices of their own and contribute integrally to the rock-solid swing of the rhythm section.

Originally Published