To those of us who remember the Johnny Carson incarnation of ‘The Tonight Show’, the band (or the ‘NBC Orchestra’ as they were formally known) looms as an important piece of the magical synthesis of talents that produced the greatest talk show in TV history. (If you haven’t delved into the world of Carson I heartily suggest a YouTube Carson snort-fest—we watch them every night at 11 even though there are seventeen other current talk shows to choose from). Doc Severinsen, the leader, was a superb trumpet player who styled himself up as a gauche, floridly dressed quasi-hipster; his ‘assistant’ leader was a saxophone player named Tommy Newsom whose bland, unassuming personality somehow became a successful target of Carson’s jokes, though the real pleasure was in watching Newsom occasionally upstage Carson with dead-pan one-line responses to whatever Carson threw at him. Musically speaking, the band kicked serious ass in a very 70s big-band Buddy Rich/Don Ellis/Rob McConnell kind of way but it was the odd set of personalities that rested within the band that one remembers more than the music. Above are a few minutes of clips of Tommy Newsom besting Carson and showing no satisfaction in (or even appearing to be aware of) the fact that he has done so.