Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blowing Tommy’s Horn

[[M U S I C]] * Jazz fans, take note: Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tommy Dorsey, one of the foremost jazz trombonists and band leaders during America’s Big Band era. Born in the coal-mining town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1905, he was the son of a music teacher and the younger brother of clarinetist/saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey, with whom he formed the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in the 1930s. After that group broke up (evidently the result of an acrimonious feud fed mostly by the hot-tempered and stubborn Tommy), the younger Dorsey established his own band but also played with such musical greats as Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, and vocalist Frank Sinatra (who claimed to have honed his essential breathing techniques by observing Dorsey play his trombone). Only in 1956 did the Dorsey Brothers reunite, embarking on a short-lived CBS-TV series, Stage Show, that finally brought them--live and loving every moment of their playing--into the homes of listeners who’d been enjoying their music from radio loudspeakers for decades. (It was also on Stage Show that a very young Elvis Presley made his first TV appearance.) Tommy Dorsey died on November 26, 1956.

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