HOME
        TheInfoList






Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956)[1] was an American jazz trombonist, composer, conductor and bandleader of the big band era. He was known as the "Sentimental Gentleman of Swing" because of his smooth-toned trombone playing.[2] His theme song was "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You". His technical skill on the trombone gave him renown among other musicians.[3] He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey.[4] After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s into the 1950s. He is best remembered for standards such as "Opus One", "Song of India", "Marie", "On Treasure Island", and his biggest hit single, "I'll Never Smile Again".

Early life

Born in Mahanoy Plane, Pennsylvania, Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. was the second of four children born to Thomas Francis Dorsey Sr., a bandleader,[5] and Theresa (née Langton) Dorsey.[6] He and Jimmy, his older brother by slightly less than two years, became famous as the Dorsey Brothers. The two younger siblings were Mary and Edward, who died young.[7] Tommy Dorsey studied the trumpet with his father but later switched to trombone.[3]

At age 15, Jimmy recommended Tommy to replace Russ Morgan in The Scranton Sirens, a territory band in the 1920s. Tommy and Jimmy worked in bands led by Tal Henry, Rudy Vallee, Vincent Lopez, and Nathaniel Shilkret. In 1923, Dorsey followed Jimmy to Detroit to play in Jean Goldkette's band and returned to New York in 1925 to play with the California Ramblers.[8] In 1927 he joined Paul Whiteman. In 1929, the Dorsey Brothers had their first hit with "Coquette" for OKeh Records.[9]

In 1934, the Dorsey Brothers band signed with Decca, having a hit with "I Believe in Miracles".[10] Glenn Miller was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934 and 1935, composing "Annie's Cousin Fanny",[11] "Tomorrow's Another Day", "Harlem Chapel Chimes", and "Dese Dem Dose", all recorded for Decca,[12] for the band. Acrimony between the brothers led to Tommy Dorsey walking out to form his own band in 1935 as the orchestra was having a hit with "Every Little Moment".[13] Dorsey's orchestra was known primarily for its renderings of ballads at dance tempos, frequently with singers such as Jack Leonard and Frank Sinatra.[3]

His own band

Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra, RCA Victor Studios, 1941

In 2009, Buddy De Franco recalled recording "Opus One" with Dorsey in the 1940s, commenting on Dorsey's desire to be precise and exact.[14] Expanding on De Franco's opinions about Dorsey, writer Peter Levinson said, "He wanted things to be done his way."[15]

The band was popular almost from the moment it signed with RCA Victor for "On Treasure Island", the first of four hits in 1935. After his 1935 recording, however, Dorsey's manager dropped the "hot jazz" that Dorsey had mixed with his own lyrical style, and instead had Dorsey play pop and vocal tunes. Dorsey kept his Clambake Seven as a Dixieland group that played during performances.[8] Dorsey became the co-host of The Raleigh-Kool Program on the radio with comedian Jack Pearl, then become the host.[16]

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.[17][18] 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".[19] In 1940, Dorsey hired singer Frank Sinatra from bandleader Harry James.[20] Sinatra made eighty recordings from 1940 to 1942 with the Dorsey band.[21] Two of those eighty songs are "In the Blue of Evening"[20] and "This Love of Mine".[22] Sinatra achieved his first great success as a vocalist in the Dorsey band and claimed he learned breath control from watching Dorsey play trombone.[13] Sy Oliver and Sinatra did a posthumous tribute album to Dorsey on Sinatra's Reprise records. "I Remember Tommy" appeared in 1961.[23] In turn, Dorsey said his trombone style was heavily influenced by that of Jack Teagarden.[24]

Among Dorsey's staff of arrangers was Axel StordahlBorn in Mahanoy Plane, Pennsylvania, Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. was the second of four children born to Thomas Francis Dorsey Sr., a bandleader,[5] and Theresa (née Langton) Dorsey.[6] He and Jimmy, his older brother by slightly less than two years, became famous as the Dorsey Brothers. The two younger siblings were Mary and Edward, who died young.[7] Tommy Dorsey studied the trumpet with his father but later switched to trombone.[3]

At age 15, Jimmy recommended Tommy to replace Russ Morgan in The Scranton Sirens, a territory band in the 1920s. Tommy and Jimmy worked in bands led by Tal Henry, Rudy Vallee, Vincent Lopez, and Nathaniel Shilkret. In 1923, Dorsey followed Jimmy to Detroit to play in Jean Goldkette's band and returned to New York in 1925 to play with the California Ramblers.[8] In 1927 he joined Paul Whiteman. In 1929, the Dorsey Brothers had their first hit with "Coquette" for OKeh Records.[9]

In 1934, the Dorsey Brothers band signed with Decca, having a hit with "I Believe in Miracles".[10] Glenn Miller was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934 and 1935, composing "Annie's Cousin Fanny",[11] "Tomorrow's Another Day", "Harlem Chapel Chimes", and "Dese Dem Dose", all recorded for Decca,[12] for the band. Acrimony between the brothers led to Tommy Dorsey walking out to form his own band in 1935 as the orchestra was having a hit with "Every Little Moment".[13] Dorsey's orchestra was known primarily for its renderings of ballads at dance tempos, frequently with singers such as At age 15, Jimmy recommended Tommy to replace Russ Morgan in The Scranton Sirens, a territory band in the 1920s. Tommy and Jimmy worked in bands led by Tal Henry, Rudy Vallee, Vincent Lopez, and Nathaniel Shilkret. In 1923, Dorsey followed Jimmy to Detroit to play in Jean Goldkette's band and returned to New York in 1925 to play with the California Ramblers.[8] In 1927 he joined Paul Whiteman. In 1929, the Dorsey Brothers had their first hit with "Coquette" for OKeh Records.[9]

In 1934, the Dorsey Brothers band signed with Decca, having a hit with "I Believe in Miracles".[10] Glenn Miller was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934 and 1935, composing "Annie's Cousin Fanny",[11] "Tomorrow's Another Day", "Harlem Chapel Chimes", and "Dese Dem Dose", all recorded for Decca,[12] for the band. Acrimony between the brothers led to Tommy Dorsey walking out to form his own band in 1935 as the orchestra was having a hit with "Every Little Moment".[13] Dorsey's orchestra was known primarily for its renderings of ballads at dance tempos, frequently with singers such as Jack Leonard and Frank Sinatra.[3]

In 2009, Buddy De Franco recalled recording "Opus One" with Dorsey in the 1940s, commenting on Dorsey's desire to be precise and exact.[14] Expanding on De Franco's opinions about Dorsey, writer Peter Levinson said, "He wanted things to be done his way."[15]

The band was popular almost from the moment it signed with RCA Victor for "On Treasure Island", the first of four hits in 1935. After his 1935 recording, however, Dorsey's manager dropped the "hot jazz" that Dorsey had mixed with his own lyrical style, and instead had Dorsey play pop and vocal tunes. Dorsey kept his Clambake Seven as a Dixieland group that played during performances.[8] Dorsey became the co-host of The Raleigh-Kool Program on the radio with comedian Jack Pearl, then become the host.[16]