Best TV House Band

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Mojochi, Mar 21, 2020.

?

Who had the best band?

  1. G.E Smith/Lenny Pickett (SNL Band)

    3 vote(s)
    18.8%
  2. Max Weinberg (Conan O'Brien Band)

    1 vote(s)
    6.3%
  3. Paul Schaffer (David Letterman Band)

    6 vote(s)
    37.5%
  4. Quest Love & The Roots (Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show Band)

    6 vote(s)
    37.5%
  5. Doc Severinson (Johnny Carson Tonight Show Band)

    5 vote(s)
    31.3%
  6. Other (There definitely are some)

    2 vote(s)
    12.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I only put up the most prominent 5, but if you feel something was left off, feel free to name it, & deride me accordingly lol

    You can select 2 choices. For me? Even though I think they are all stellar outfits, nothing ever ripped live better than when that G.E. Smith band would weekly tear down studio 8H at 30 Rock. When guys like Eddie Van Halen & Eric Clapton want to sit in, you are the hottest shit imho. When you hear the theme 1st pipe in, frankly, it's the most exciting part of the show some weeks lol

    My second vote went to The Roots. I can't say that they are legitimately a better ensemble than say Doc's or Max's bands, but I just seem to like them better. They feel more like a family to me, & that is not an insignificant factor imho
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
  2. od0_ital

    od0_ital Admiral Admiral

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    Doc Severinson on Johnny Carson's show & Paul Scaffer on David Letterman's two shows.
     
  3. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Really there were two Letterman bands led by Paul Shaffer: The World's Most Dangerous Band on Late Night with David Letterman 1982-1993, and the CBS Orchestra on The Late Show. They had some of the same personnel but two different vibes. I vote for The World's Most Dangerous Band.

    Because Johnny Carson owned the show, he laid down rules so LNwDL would not be seen as something that could easily replace The Tonight Show. One of the rules was that bands could not play on their own. They had to have a member or two sit in with Paul and the band (more members were allowed as the show went on, but still with the house band). If the show really wanted a band to perform on their own, they had to get special permission from Carson Productions in California, and that was rare. Two bands I remember being allowed to play on their own in the early days were R.E.M. and X.

    This was not easy. In the old days there were full time professional bands/orchestras and musicians unions in big cities and singers could bring their arrangements with them and everyone spoke the same language and they could put shows together very quickly. This was often how Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra worked. In the rock and roll era, that professional establishment kind of faded away. Rock and pop acts in the '80s were used to performing with the same touring band. So when they played the Letterman show, they had a couple of hours to get everything together with a band they had never met before. The "Late Night" four-piece was recruited from some of NYC's top session players, and was so professional, talented and musically versatile, they could go from country to folk to funk to metal in the course of a week, and hit the spot on each one.

    Also because 6A was so small, relatively, the band were probably less than ten steps from the host desk. Because they were so close, they were part of the show even when they were not playing. SNL veteran Shaffer obviously took to the comedic sidekick role from the start, but the other members (Will Lee, Steve Jordan, Hiram Bullock, Anton Fig replacing Steve, Sid McGinnis replacing Hiram, and part-time member David Sanborn) were too close to ignore. Dave talked to them casually during the show and if they had something funny to say, they said it. I've never seen another band that had the same easygoing work-family feel.

    Paul is a rock-and-roll encyclopedia, and if he thought of some music that was appropriate on the spur of the moment, they could be on it within seconds. Because they became so well-known and respected for being able to play with anyone, the WMDB became the house band for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and Paul led the closing jams on stages filled with rock and pop legends.

    One memorable example of the band's greatness is this 1986 performance by Steve Winwood. Trying to replicate the "Higher Love" studio record was a challenge, and Paul tries to warn Dave at the beginning. The time changes of the instrumental breaks are tricky and change on a dime. Anton does a monster job timing the performance, backed up by highly respected studio percussionist Carol Steele. You can see Paul and Will are glued to their charts. And yes, Paul plays a clinker. I also have to mention the wonderful Dolette McDonald on backing vocal.


    Last-minute adaptability: Guest Gary Busey plays an impromptu number with the band after the musical guest (the Charlie Watts Quintet) cancels. Relevant part starts at 1:36:20.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
  4. Timby

    Timby Game ... OVER! Administrator

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    No Rockapella? For shame.
     
  5. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've always been partial to Paul Schaffer.
     
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  6. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Paul Schaffer was definitely the best personality, but the Roots are extremely talented.
     
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  7. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Poll Fail: You forgot Jon Batiste and Stay Human for Stephen Colbert. Their omission invalidates this poll.
     
  8. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Another vote for Paul and The World's Most Dangerous Band/CBS Orchestra.
     
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  9. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I mean they're really good obviously, but it's not like I included Brandford Marsalis's Leno band either. Neither of them blow me away, but opinions vary :shrug:
     
  10. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Doc Severinsen, without question. :mallory:

    I will never forget the time when I was in high school and Ed Shaughnessy (Doc's drummer) did a clinic with our jazz band. He even did live shows with us. Some of my greatest HS memories, right there.

    Musically, I always thought Doc and his band was the best of all the late night show bands. Plus, Doc had great comic chemistry with Johnny. (And when Doc wasn't available, Tommy Newsom was great as well.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
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  11. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Tomorrow Never Knows Premium Member

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  12. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lots of interesting stuff I didn’t know, JTB.

    My pick would be Paul Schaefer’s WMDB. They were a much hipper band than Doc Severinson’s Tonight show band, just as Doc’s was hipper than Skitch Henderson’s was before him. Although I didn’t like Doc’s style on trumpet, too much high pitched bleating, he did get lots of truly great musicians to play with.

    WMDB was just the best. They were always coming up with little surprises. One night after Dave’s monologue, Paul introduced Rudy Lewis, one of the former lead singers of the Drifters, who walked from behind the scenery to do a kick ass version of Under the Boardwalk. Another night, apropos of nothing, after Dave’s monologue, and with no preamble, the band busted into an incendiary instrumental version of Separate Ways. And then it ended and the show went on with no explanation — cool af.

    The band suffered a bit when they moved to CBS, IMO. They were way less quirky and were more predictable. Also, I didn’t care for David Sanborn. But I did like Felicia.

    in terms of the hipness factor, I think it is currently all about Questlove and the Roots. They have the quirky unpredictability that WMDB had back in the NBC days. There was the night they played Sarah Palin on with Cold Hearted Snake (or Bitch). One night they played a guest on and when he sat down he mentioned that he thought they’d play him on with another tune. While the conversation with Fallon went on, Questlove hopped on the net, fond the music to the song the guest mentioned, gave it to the band and they played during the next break.

    I also liked Jay Leno’s Afirst Tonight Show band led by Branfotd Marsalis and Kenny Kirkland.

    BTW, I used to think Conan’s NBC band was pretty good as well.
     
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  13. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Tommy on clinics:


    They were tremendous. When they went to "Stump the Band," you knew some guest had canceled or something and they had to fill time. But they always made something of it, and the audience loved it. Ed Shaughnessy, Tommy Newsom, Ross Tompkins, Tony Mottola, all gone. But Doc is still going!

    Not The Tonight Show, but this was incredible: Doc, Tommy and Ed Shaughnessy performing "Here's That Rainy Day" as a tribute to Johnny Carson on The Late Show, 2005. Tommy was greatly respected as an arranger and I believe he did this beautiful arrangement. Makes me sad, but not in a bad way.

     
  14. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Isn't the whole point of polls varying opinions? :p
     
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  15. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Another thing I liked about Paul Shaffer and Max Weinberg is they would pick songs to play that would match the celebrity in some thematic or punny way. Especially after captions would help identify the track it would be fun to put them together. I couldn't remember any examples but I found this article that had some: https://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/29/...ng-the-music-to-fit-each-late-show-guest.html

    The Roots are pretty good too because of Fallon's playful nature they are often called to play little musical snippets on demand. While some of them may be preplanned/rehearsed you get the feeling that a lot of them are done in the moment.
     
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  16. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's the thing about the SNL band as well. I think the tendency is to notice their commercial breaks, when they get camera time before & after, & really get a chance to shine, but in truth, they are the entire musical support for the show, adding music during sketches & have even played with the musical guests. It's such an all around musical element, & let's not forget the original SNL band actually being the premise for the Blues Brothers sketch that led to the movie. So in that instance they actually inspired the show's material. I'm sure it's not been the only time either
     
  17. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    One of the ones I remember best was for CBS journalist Leslie Stahl: "Groovin'" by the Young Rascals, because people used to misunderstand the lyric "life would be ecstasy for you and me endlessly" as "life would be ecstasy for you and me and Leslie." Another one: "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar for Mary Matalin (pun on Mary Magdalene). But they could be even more obscure, like Julian Lennon songs for Martin Short because Paul thought they resembled each other.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
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  18. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Regarding Leno, Branford Marsalis always looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but there. Kevin Eubanks was WAY better.

    And of course who could forget Smitty the drummer. :guffaw:
     
  19. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know if he's a better musician, but he was certainly a better fit for the job. Marsalis did always seem like he thought the gig was beneath him. Somehow I get the feeling Reggie Watts feels the same way, over at James Corden's show. It really is a shtick gig, & say what you will about Shaffer as a musician, but it is kind of his fault that everyone expects the band leader to be a sidekick now. Ellen's DJ Stitch has to do it, even Quest Love gets dragged into it, which I do feel can be a bit demeaning for a quality musician
     
  20. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Speaking of that, Colbert and Jon Batiste have some of the strangest, most awkward, interactions between a host and bandleader. Bless him, Batiste seem to try his best.
     
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