Image of the Tommy Dorsey.

Tommy Dorsey

(trombone, trumpet, cornet) 1905 - 1956

May 30th 1935, a date that will live in infamy, well not exactly, but it was on that night at the Glen Island Casino that the legendary argument led to Tommy Dorsey's stage walk off and the brothers going their own ways as leaders. Jimmy kept most of the Dorsey Brothers band together whereas Tommy quickly made a deal with floundering band leader Joe Haymes to take over his band containing many good players, and with an RCA Victor Records contract he was off and running.

As with any new band, even with nationally known leader, it was hard going. Dorsey, always on the look out for star attractions, quickly grabbed ex-Goodman trumpet star Bunny Berigan. Next the band needed a hit record, and from a Victor Records session on 29th January 1937 came two sides destined to change the Dorsey fortunes. The Rimsky Korsakov composition "Song of India" got a swing setting, and Irving Berlin's song "Marie" was dressed up with a Jack Leonard and bandsmen vocal, with a brilliant Berigan solo. The coupling became an instant international hit and set a style for subsequent Dorsey/Leonard arrangements. It may be that Dorsey lifted the singer with echoing bandsmen arrangement from another orchestra but those things happened and it was TD that hit the jackpot. The Berigan solo was so breathtaking that in later Dorsey bands it was arranged as a four trumpet feature as a lasting tribute. There followed a lengthy Raleigh-Kool sponsored radio series beginning in 1937 which projected the band coast to coast. The overall sound was not that dissimilar to the earlier Brothers' band or Bob Crosby's Dixieland inspired big band arrangements.

The success of the Artie Shaw band and the growing threat from the erstwhile Dorsey Brothers arranger, Glenn Miller, forced some major changes on the trombonist. The main change was arranger Sy Oliver, lured from the Jimmie Lunceford band, which encouraged ex-Shaw drummer Buddy Rich to join up, Bunny Berigan was back, hard blowing Ziggy Elman was in the trumpet section and the Pied Pipers vocal group and a young Frank Sinatra were hired, all of which added up to a powerful roster of talent to launch a new look Dorsey Orchestra in the spring of 1940.

There were hit record and personal appearance successes and the Orchestra was hired to open the sumptuous new Hollywood Palladium on Oct 30th 1940 to a huge turnout including many of the Hollywood stars. Throughout Dorsey's leading career there are countless stories of the grudges he could harbour and the men he would suddenly fire in the middle of tours. By mid 1942 with America in the war the entertainment industry moved up several gears as a vital morale builder, and no Orchestra leader did more during the war years than Dorsey. Sinatra left in September of '42 to be replaced by Dick Haymes. A huge string section was now part of the Dorsey sound which lasted till late 1944 when economic realities began to bite. Never the less instrumental hits like Sy Oliver's "Opus One" and the gently swinging Sentimentalist's hit "On The Sunny Side of the Street" consolidated the Dorsey box office appeal when the post war future of touring big bands was beginning to darken.

Following a six month lay off in 1947 Dorsey was back with a leaner and more swinging orchestra with such as Ziggy Elman, Charlie Shavers, Corky Corcoran and drummer Louie Bellson in the ranks. Hollywood had weighed in a fair to middling "The Fabulous Dorseys" film bio and TD was up and at 'em again. He had already become a ballroom operator in Santa Monica, just out of Hollywood, which began to be a money loser but with characteristic perversity he wouldn't sell. As the 40s ended and the big bands were failing or trying new innovative material, Dorsey rode out the depression without bop experimentation although he featured harmonically intriguing originals by Bill Finegan. The Dorsey programmes were essentially for middle America with good songs, some novelties and here and there a bright new swinger to feature Charlie Shavers.

Image of The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, summer 1951. Left to right: Johnny Amorosa, Babe Fresk, Bob Lawson, Hugo Lowenstern, Sam Hyster, Tommy Dorsey, Billy Ainsworth, Fred DeLan, Paul Mason, Norman Seelig, Nick DiMaio, Terry Guinn, George Cherub, Ray Wetzel, Bobby Nichols and Charlie Shavers. (1951)

In 1953 Jimmy, who had given up his band, joined as a featured soloist and with good hotel and tour bookings the future still seemed bright. Good friend Jackie Gleason, who was now a national TV star, arranged for the Dorseys to be his summer replacement programme and rather prophetically it was the first time Elvis Presley was a guest performer. There is a story that says the trombonist confided that he feared that this was the future.

For the next two years the band was headquartered in New York with lengthy residences in the Statler Hotel and with a fresh library of Ernie Wilkins and Deane Kincaide originals a Dorsey renaissance was happening. Then on the night of November 26, 1956, another infamous date, his death from a choking seizure in his sleep was announced. The leader was only 51, and there could have been more music to come especially when the big band nostalgia boom began ten years later. Dorsey's trombone style will forever be regarded as a benchmark for ballad and although he had never regarded himself as a jazzer like Jack Teagarden he could play hot with the best.

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Image of Hep CD39 - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra - The All Time Hit Parade Rehearsals


TOMMY DORSEY & His Orchestra

"The All Time Hit Parade Rehearsals"

Collection of brilliant performances for radio featuring Buddy De Franco, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland from 1944.

Titles - On The Sunnyside of the Street / April in Paris / What is this Thing / I May Be Wrong / Embraceable You / Cheek to Cheek / I'll Be Seeing You / Dancing in the Dark / I Can't Give You Anything / I'll Walk Alone / South Of the Border / Summertime / If You Are But a Dream / Amour / Lover Come Back To Me / Top Hat / Lamp is Low / Boogie Woogie / I'll Never Smile Again / I'll be Seeing You / Song Of India / As Time Goes By / Hawaiian War Chant

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99

Tommy Dorsey - "Sunny Side of the Street"

Image of Hep CD40 - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra - The Carnegie Hall V-Disc Session April 1944


TOMMY DORSEY & His Orchestra

"The Carnegie Hall V-Disc Session April 1944"

Also other radio performances featuring Gene Krupa, Buddy De Franco and Buddy Rich from 1944.

Titles - The Minor Goes A-Muggin' / I Dream Of You / Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet / I Never Know / Song Of India / Tess's Torch Song (I Had A Man) / Irresistable You / Losers Weepers / Wagon Wheels / Paramount On Parade / TD Chant / Then I'll Be Happy / Small Fry / Pennies From Heaven / Somebody Loves Me / Indian Summer / I'm In The Mood To Be Loved / Sweet And Lovely / Chicago / The Lady In Red / For All We Know / I'm Nobody's Baby / Three Little Words.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99

Tommy Dorsey - "Three Little Words"

Image of Hep CD43 - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra - At The Fat Man's


TOMMY DORSEY & His Orchestra

"At The Fat Man's"

A collection of broadcast performances with Louis Bellson, Charlie Shavers, Corky Corcoran, Stuart Foster, Denny Dennis and Lucy Ann Polk from 1946-8.

Titles - Blue Skies / Dawn On The Desert / At The Fat Man's / Come Rain Or Come Shine / Bingo, Bango, Boffo / Marie / Well Git It / At Sundown / Trombonology / Baby, Baby, All The Time / Until / The Continental / Candy / Opus One / I've Got The World On A String / Non Drastic / Let Me Call You Sweetheart / Feels So Good / You Know What Trouble Is / Pussy Willow.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99

Tommy Dorsey - "Trombonology"

Image of Hep CD75 - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra - It's D'Lovely


TOMMY DORSEY & His Orchestra

"It's D'Lovely - 1947-50"

Studio performances from Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded during 1947-50 in New York City and Hollywood. Featuring arrangements by Deane Kinncaide, Sy Oliver, Jerry Fielding, Bill Finegan and Johnny Thompson. The soloists are Corky Corcoran, Paul Smith, Boomie Richman and Charlie Shavers while Denny Dennis, Lucy Ann Polk, Stuart Foster and Frances Irvin provide the vocals.

Titles - But I Do Mind If You Don't / That's Life I Guess / Kate / Baby, Baby All The Time / TD's Boogie Woogie / Let Me Call You Sweetheart / You Know What The Trouble Is Baby / Puddlewump / The Continental / Ain'tcha Glad I Love You / The Knock Song / Why Shouldn't I / Just One Of Those Things / I Get A Kick Out Of You / It's D'Lovely / You Do Something To Me / Love For Sale / Lullaby In Boogie / I Ought To Know More About You / Comin' Through The Rye / I Hadn't Anyone Till You / Happy Feet / Way Down Yonder In New Orleans / Original Dixieland One Step.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99

Tommy Dorsey - "It's D'Lovely"

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