The members of The Emergitones have two main things in common: They are all talented musicians, and they are all emergency physicians. Those shared interests were enough to bring five band members from all over the country—Michigan, California, Florida, and New York—together to form a jazz band built on principles that transcend both music and medicine.
“As emergency physicians, we kind of play jazz in our work life,” explained founding member Earl Reisdorff, MD, FACEP, executive director of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM). “With jazz, you have a melody line and a chord structure, which is kind of your harmonic road map, and you just take off and go. It’s not unlike working in the emergency department. You’ve got fundamental skill. Wherever the patient takes you, that’s where you go.”
The Emergitones got its start when Dr. Reisdorff and his longtime friend Greg Henry, MD, FACEP, discovered a shared interest in music. Dr. Reisdorff, a pianist, and Dr. Henry, a drummer, started sitting in as part of the jazz trio that plays during the opening reception for the annual Michigan College of Emergency Physicians meeting. Dr. Henry heard Julliard-trained clarinetist Martin Rossip, MD, playing saxophone during an ACEP wellness event and soon recruited him to join the group. Then they connected with Judith Dattaro, MD, a vocalist from New York City. The most recent addition to the group is Larry Hobbs, MD, FACEP, a bass player from Fort Myers, Florida. The Emergitones play together during various emergency medicine events, including the Wiegenstein Legacy Society reception at ACEP18.
Since their geography makes it impossible to practice, The Emergitones lean on the free-flowing nature of jazz music and their own improvisational skills, finely honed in the emergency department, to harmonize. When not playing with The Emergitones, each band member is active on the music scene year-round. Dr. Reisdorff is a professional composer whose choral works are played all over the world, and Dr. Henry is often hired for weddings, polka bands, and other gigs. Dr. Hobbs played bass in nightclubs throughout college and medical school, toured cross country in the Robin Zander Band in 2014–2015, and now subs as a bass player for local jazz, dance, pop, blues, and rock bands. Dr. Dattaro was lead singer and keyboard player in an ’80s pop-rock band that played throughout New York City and helped support herself through medical school by singing at church services on the Upper East Side. Dr. Rossip has toured with several well-known groups and musicians such as The Temptations, The Four Tops, Eartha Kitt, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He recently transitioned to being a full-time musician, playing 100 gigs a year.