Tommy Dorsey
Star Maker
Victor Records Album P-150

Purple Line

Trombonist Thomas "Tommy" Dorsey was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1905. He is of course the younger brother of famed jazz clarinetist, Jimmy Dorsey. In early years he was equally well-known as both trumpet and trombone player, recording several hot jazz solos on trumpet in 1920s, including "The Spell of the Blues" with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra for OKeh on 1/26/29, (OKE 41181; Matrix W.401560-B). His career closely followed that of brother Jimmy; by 1930 he was one of the most successful free-lance radio and recording artists on trombone, recognized both for his exceptional tone and legato style on ballads and for his fine solos on faster tempi.

Prior to the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, Tommy worked with such units as Jean Goldkette, Paul Whiteman and recorded with Bix Beiderbecke, (Bix & His Rhythm Jugglers); Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang and of course Red Nichols, (Red Nichols & His Five Pennies).

Tommy and Jimmy formed an orchestra together in the early 1930s known as "The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra," and included Glenn Miller, Ray McKinley and Bob Crosby. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" was first recorded September 24, 1932 by a pick-up recording group under the Dorsey brothers. In 1935, when Tommy quit after a disagreement between the two brothers. He formed a band of his own from the remnants of Joe Haymes' orchestra, with "Sentimental" as his theme number.

This Victor album, another "Smart Set" is entitled "Tommy Dorsey; Starmaker" because of all the amazing talent that passed through his organization. The names in the stars on the album are just some of the sidemen (and women!) who worked with Tommy: Bunny Berigan, Pee Wee Erwin, Charlie Spivak, Yank Lawson, Charlie Shavers and Ziggy Elman, trumpets; Johnny Mince, Buddy DeFranco, clarinets; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Joe Bushkin, piano; Buddy Rich, Dave Tough, Louis Bellson drums; and many popular singers such as Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Connie Haines, The Pied Pipers, Lacy Ann Folk; arrangers included Sy Oliver, Paul Weston, and Axel Stordahl.

After the brothers were reunited in 1953, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, led mainly by Tommy, but with Jimmy prominently featured, earned national publicity in 1955-56 through the Dorseys' own TV program, Stage Show, on CBS. During this period, the band worked frequently at the Statler Hotel, NYC.

Dorsey died suddenly at his country home on November 26, 1956. Death was caused by strangulation due to food particles. In the fall of 1957 an orchestra designed as the Tommy Dorsey band, under the direction of trombonist Warren Covington, was organized and toured dance halls throughout the US.

Dorsey's biggest selling record was his orchestrated version of the Pinetop Smith classic, "Boogie-Woogie," reputed to have sold four million copies. Some of his records were of a semi-jazz nature, made occasionally with a small contingent from the band which he called the Clambake Seven.

Some of the information in this mini-bio were obtained from Leonard Feather's "Encyclopedia of Jazz", (1960; Bonanza Books, NY)

Purple Line

Return to the W.A.M.S. Home Page