Skitch Henderson and the Tonight Show Orchestra- Skitch…Tonight!

Hay-ooo.  This was only a dollar.  As I have had many Doc Severinsen albums on this blog, I thought I should highlight the Tonight Show’s bandleader before him, Skitch Henderson.  I remember watching the Carson show in the 80’s and 90’s.  That era has died.  His style of late night is no more I am sad to say.  I often wonder how Carson would handle reality stars or quasi-celebrities.  

But I digress.   The subject of this record, Skitch, was born in Halstad, Minn in 1918.  After a career composing,conducting, and arranging in radio and film, Skitch landed at NBC where he would become the musical director. During this tenure, he became the bandleader for Steve Allen on the original Tonight Show.  He would return in 1962 when Jack Paar left and Carson took the reigns.  He led this band until 1966.  Eventually, Henderson’s band mate Severinsen would take the job and hold it until Carson’s retirement in 1992.  Skitch himself would pass in 2005.

This record, released by Columbia in 1965, highlights not just Skitch’s abilities , but the abilities of the Tonight Show Orchestra.  Skitch’s notes are quick to point out the key contributions of the bands’ members.  I was not expecting a lot from this record and as a result, I was really taken back when I heard it.  Pretty fresh and interesting arrangements as well as a variety of musical numbers.  Quite a good, smooth little record.

For a sample, I really liked “Curacao” and “Tootie Flutie” but ultimately decided to go with “Cleopatra’s Asp”, since it is written (and I am guessing performed) by Severinsen.  A really nice little number.


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