Thomas Francis "Tommy" Dorsey, Jr. (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956) was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing", due to his smooth-toned trombone playing.He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s
Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the third of four children born to Thomas Francis Dorsey, Sr. and Theresa (née Langton) Dorsey. The Dorsey brothers' two younger siblings were Mary and Edward (who died young). At age 15, Jimmy Dorsey recommended his brother Tommy as the replacement for Russ Morgan in the germane 1920s territory band "The Scranton Sirens." Tommy and Jimmy worked in several bands, including those of Tal Henry, Rudy Vallee, Vincent Lopez, Nathaniel Shilkret, and especially Paul Whiteman. In 1929, the Dorsey Boys had their first hit with "Coquette" for OKeh records. The Dorsey Brothers band signed with Decca records in 1934, having a hit with "I Believe In Miracles". Future bandleader Glenn Miller was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934 and 1935, composing "Annie's Cousin Fanny" and "Dese Dem Dose" both recorded for Decca for the band. Ongoing acrimony between the brothers, however, led to Tommy Dorsey's walking out to form his own band in 1935, just as the orchestra was having a hit with "Every Little Moment.
Tommy Dorsey's first band was formed out of the remains of the Joe Haymes band. This began Dorsey's long-running practice of raiding other bands for talent. If he admired a vocalist, musician, or arranger, he would think nothing of taking over their contracts and careers. Dorsey had a reputation for being a perfectionist. He was volatile and also known to hire and fire (and sometimes rehire) musicians based on his mood. The new band was popular from almost the moment it signed with RCA Victor with "On Treasure Island", the first of four hits for the new band in 1935. The Dorsey band had a national radio presence in 1936 first from Dallas and then from Los Angeles. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra took over comedian Jack Pearl's radio show in 1937.
By 1939, Dorsey was aware of criticism that his band lacked a jazz feeling. He hired arranger Sy Oliver away from the Jimmie Lunceford band. Sy Oliver's arrangements include "On The Sunny Side of the Street" and "T.D.'s Boogie Woogie"; Oliver also composed two of the new band's signature instrumentals, "Well, Git It" and "Opus One". In 1940, Dorsey hired singer Frank Sinatra from bandleader Harry James. Frank Sinatra made eighty recordings from 1940 to 1942 with the Dorsey band. Two of those eighty songs are "In The Blue of Evening" and "This Love of Mine". Frank Sinatra achieved his first great success as a vocalist in the Dorsey band and claimed he learned breath control from watching Dorsey play trombone. In turn Dorsey said his trombone style was heavily influenced by that of Jack Teagarden. Among Dorsey's staff of arrangers was Axel Stordahl who arranged for Frank Sinatra in his Columbia and Capitol records years. Another member of the Dorsey band was trombonist Nelson Riddle, who later had a partnership as one of Sinatra's arrangers and conductors in the 1950s and afterwards. Another noted Dorsey arranger, who in the 1950s, married and was professionally associated with Dorsey veteran Jo Stafford, was Paul Weston. Bill Finegan, an arranger who left Glenn Miller's civilian band, arranged for the Tommy Dorsey band from 1942 to 1950.
The band featured a number of future famous instrumentalists, singers and arrangers in the 1930s and '40s, including trumpeters Zeke Zarchy, Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, Carl "Doc" Severinsen, and Charlie Shavers, pianists Milt Raskin, Jess Stacy, clarinetists Buddy DeFranco, Johnny Mince, and Peanuts Hucko. Others who played with Dorsey were drummers Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Dave Tough and singers Frank Sinatra, Jack Leonard, Edythe Wright, Jo Stafford with The Pied Pipers, Dick Haymes and Connie Haines In 1944, Dorsey hired The Sentimentalists who replaced The Pied Pipers. Dorsey also performed with singer Connee Boswell Dorsey hired ex-bandleader and drummer Gene Krupa after Krupa's arrest and scandal for marijuana possession in 1943. In 1942 Artie Shaw broke up his band and Dorsey hired the Shaw string section. As George Simon in Metronome magazine notes at the time, "They're used in the foreground and background (note some of the lovely obbligatos) for vocal effects and for Tommy's trombone.
As Dorsey became successful he made business decisions in the music industry. He loaned Glenn Miller money to launch Miller's successful band of 1938, but Dorsey saw the loan as an investment, entitling him to a percentage of Miller's income. When Miller balked at this, the angry Dorsey got even by sponsoring a new band led by Bob Chester, and hiring arrangers who deliberately copied Miller's style and sound. Dorsey branched out in the mid-1940s and owned two music publishing companies, Sun and Embassy. After opening at the Los Angeles ballroom, The Hollywood Palladium on the Palladium's first night, Dorsey's relations with the ballroom soured and he opened a competing ballroom, The Casino Gardens circa 1944. Dorsey also owned for a short time a trade magazine called The Bandstand.
Tommy Dorsey disbanded his own orchestra at the end of 1946. Dorsey might have broken up his own band permanently following World War II, as many big bands did due to the shift in music economics following the war, but Tommy Dorsey's album for RCA, "All Time Hits" placed in the top ten records in February, 1947. In addition, "How Are Things In Glocca Morra?" a single recorded by Dorsey became a top ten hit in March, 1947. Both of these successes made it possible for Dorsey to re-organize a big band in early 1947. The Dorsey brothers were also reconciling. The biographical film of 1947, The Fabulous Dorseys describes sketchy details of how the brothers got their start from-the-bottom-up into the jazz era of one-nighters, the early days of radio in its infancy stages, and the onward march when both brothers ended up with Paul Whiteman before 1935 when The Dorsey Brothers' Orchestra split into two. In the early 1950s, Tommy Dorsey moved from RCA Victor back to the Decca record label.
Jimmy Dorsey broke up his own big band in 1953. Tommy invited him to join up as a feature attraction and a short while later, Tommy renamed the band the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra featuring Jimmy Dorsey. In 1953, the Dorseys focused their attention on television. On December 26, 1953, the brothers appeared with their orchestra on Jackie Gleason's CBS television show, which was preserved on kinescope and later released on home video by Gleason. The brothers took the unit on tour and onto their own television show, Stage Show, from 1955 to 1956. On numerous episodes,they introduced future noted rock musician Elvis Presley to national television audiences, prior to Presley's better known appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show".
On November 26, 1956, Tommy Dorsey died at age 51 in his Greenwich, Connecticut home. Dorsey had eaten a heavy meal and began choking in his sleep. Dorsey customarily began taking sleeping pills regularly at this time; therefore, he was so sedated that he was unable to awaken and died from choking. Jimmy Dorsey led his brother's band until his own death of lung cancer the following year. At that point, trombonist Warren Covington assumed leadership of the band with Jane Dorsey's blessing as she owned the rights to her late husband's band and name. Billed as the "Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Starring Warren Covington", they topped the charts in 1958 with Tea For Two Cha-Cha. After Covington led the band for a short period, Sam Donahue led it starting in 1961, continuing until the late 1960s. Buddy Morrow conducted the Tommy Dorsey orchestra until his death on September 27, 2010. Jane Dorsey died of natural causes at the age of 79, in Miami, Florida in 2003. Tommy and Jane Dorsey are interred together in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.
Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, 19 de noviembre de 1905 – Greenwich, Connecticut, 26 de noviembre de 1956) fue un trombonista de jazz y director de big band estadounidense.
Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. nació en Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, y comenzó su carrera musical a los 16 años en Pennsylvania oeste tocando en la big band "The Scranton Sirens", cubriendo el puesto que había dejado Russ Morgan.
Tommy y su hermano Jimmy trabajaron en varias orquestas (entre ellas, las de Rudy Vallee, Vincent López y, especialmente, la de Paul Whiteman) antes de formar la Dorsey Brothers Orchestra en 1934. Problemas suscitados entre los propiso hermanos, llevaron a Tommy Dorsey a abandonar el grupo para formar su propia orquesta en 1935, justo en el momento en que los hermanos estaban obteniendo un gran éxito con el tema "Every Little Movement".
La primera orquesta de Tommy Dorsey se formó con los restos de la orquesta de Joe Haymes, y su limpio y lírico estilo trombonístico, tanto en las baladas como en los temas más bailables, se convirtió en una de los sonidos característicos tanto de su orquesta como de toda la era del swing.
La nueva orquesta obtuvo éxitos casi desde el mismo momento en que firmó con RCA Victor, por ejemplo con "On Treasure Island", el primero de cuatro éxitos durante ese año, que terminarían por ser 137 éxitos en las listas Billboard, con temas como "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" (que demuestra su extraordinaria gama tonal y su magistral uso de la sordina, alcanzando las notas más altas), "Marie", "The Big Apple", "Music, Maestro, Please", "I'll Never Smile Again", "This Love of Mine", "On the Sunny Side of the Street", "T.D.'s Boogie Woogie", "Well, Git 'It", "Opus One", "Manhattan Serenade" y "There Are Such Things", entre muchos otros.
La orquesta contó con un gran número de los mejores instrumentalistas de jazz de la época, entre ellos los trompetistas Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, George Seaberg y Charlie Shavers,
el trompetista/arreglista/compositor Sy Oliver (que escribió "Well, Git 'It" y "Opus One"), el batería Buddy Rich y los cantantes Jo Stafford, Dick Haymes y Frank Sinatra. Sinatra alcanzó sus primeros grandes éxitos como vocalista en la orquesta de Dorsey y terminó afirmando que su control de la respiración lo había aprendido viendo a Dorsey tocar el trombón. A su vez, Dorsey afirmaba que su estilo estaba en deuda con el de Jack Teagarden. Otro miembro de la orquesta debió también pasar tiempo observando y escuchando los arreglos de Sy Oliver: el trombonista Nelson Riddle, cuya colaboración posterior con Sinatra como arreglista y director de las orquestas que lo respaldaban ha sido considerada revolucionaria para la música popular tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial.
Dorsey hubo de disolver su orquestas tras la Guerra, a finales de 1946 en concreto, como otras muchas big bands debieron de hacer por culpa de los cambios en el negocio de la música producidos en esos años. Pero un disco de grandes éxitos (All-Time Hits) le permitió reorganizar la orquesta a comienzos de 1947.
Tommy Dorsey en la película The Fabulous Dorseys (1947), que describe la carrera de los hermanos Dorsey hasta esa fecha.
Los hermanos Dorsey se reconciliaron más tarde, tras disolver Jimmy su exitosa orquesta en 1953 y haber sido invitado por Tommy a unirse a las suya, que más tarde sería renombrada como Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. La orquesta realizó giras y tuvo su propio programa de televisión, Stage Show, entre 1954 y 1956, en el que, entre otros, presentaron públicamente a toda la nación a Elvis Presley.
En 1956, Tommy Dorsey murió a los 51 años en su casa de Greenwich, Connecticut, en 1956, mientras dormía (había sido sedado para dormir tras una comida especialmente pesada). Jimmy Dorsey lideró la orquesta de su hermano hasta su propia muerte por un cáncer de garganta al año siguiente. En ese momento, el trombonista Warren Covington asumió la dirección de la misma, con el beneplácito de Jane Dorsey (quien tenía los derechos sobre la última orquesta y nombre de su marido) y produjo, curiosamente, el mayor éxito comercial realizado nunca bajo el nombre de Dorsey. Publicitados como la Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Starring Warren Covington, alcanzaron lo más alto de las listas en 1958 con Tea For Two Cha-Cha. Covington lideró la orquesta Dorsey hasta 1970 (también lideró y grabó con su propia orquesta), tras lo cual Jane Dorsey la renombró como The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, que es conducida en la actualidad por Buddy Morrow. Jane Dorsey murió por causas naturales a los 73 años en 2003.