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Jay Leno welcomes Rickey Minor to 'The Tonight Show'

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Former American Idol music director Rickey Minor made his debut as The Tonight Show’s new band leader last night in a cold open bit that ended with a punchline about his being excited to join a network that pumps out so many hits [cue Jay Leno‘s raised eyebrow].

Minor’s presence was subdued, and though I was never a huge Kevin Eubanks fan (are there huge Kevin Eubanks fans?), I will say I noticed the absence of his innocuous wit (if not his polite laughs) during the monologue. I suspect Minor will ease his way into a more prominent role as time goes by. He looked nice, though. And the music sounded as good as it did with Eubanks — perhaps Minor’s arrangements featured a bit more horns than Eubanks’ more guitar-centric numbers? I’m reaching here.

Anyone miss Eubanks last night? What’d we think of Minor’s music? Who’s the best late-night band leader in the biz?

More from EW.com:

‘American Idol’ music director Rickey Minor’s out. Should he have gotten a montage?

Rickey Minor talks new ‘Tonight Show’ gig, current season of ‘Idol’

Kevin Eubanks says good-bye to ‘The Tonight Show’

Rickey Minor to replace Kevin Eubanks on ‘The Tonight Show’

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