Personalities | Tommy Dorsey | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
(Bandleader, trombone, trumpet, 1905–56)
With the break-up of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey quickly hired the Joe Haymes Orchestra en masse and built a new band to his specifications. For all the talent it would attract, however, it would always be built around the leader’s warm trombone sound and flawless perfection on ballads. The Dorsey band of 1935–39 drew its identity from the muscle-loosening swing of drummer Dave Tough, soloists Bud Freeman, Bunny Berigan, Yank Lawson and Johnny Mince, and singers Jack Leonard and Edythe Wright.
Late in 1939, Sy Oliver came over from Jimmie Lunceford as arranger and reinvented the Dorsey band for the 1940s. It became a precision showboat of talent (artists included Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Buddy Rich and Ziggy Elman), which covered everything from hard-swinging originals (‘Well Get It’) to imaginatively mounted pop tunes (‘Without A Song’). In 1953 the Dorsey brothers reunited and combined their books into a single band. Early in 1956 the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show introduced Elvis Presley to a national television audience.
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