Trumpet, b.1973, San Luis Obispo, CA
Trombone, b.1905 d.1956, Shenandoah, PA
Tommy Dorsey was a jazz trombonist and bandleader in the Big Band era. He is the younger brother of Jimmy Dorsey.
Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania and started out only 16 years later in western Pennsylvania with big band alum Russ Morgan in the famous pick-up band of the 1920’s “The Scranton Sirens”.
Tommy and his brother Jimmy worked in several bands (including those of Rudy Vallee, Vincent Lopez, and especially Paul Whiteman) before forming the original Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934. 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 Movement.”
Tommy Dorsey’s first band formed out of the remnant of the Joe Haymes band, and his smooth, lyrical trombone style—whether on ballads or on no-holds-barred swingers—became one of the signature sounds of both his band and the Swing Era. The new band hit from almost the moment it signed with RCA Victor with “On Treasure Island,” the first of four hits for the new band that year. That led to a run of 137 Billboard chart hits, including his theme song, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (which showcases his phenomenal range and masterful mute use, reaching up to the high C #), “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”, and “There Are Such Things”—among many others.
The band featured a number of the best instrumentalists in jazz at the time, including trumpeters Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, and Charlie Shavers, trumpeter/arranger/composer Sy Oliver (who wrote “Well, Git ‘It” and “Opus One”), drummer Buddy Rich, and singers Jo Stafford, Dick Haymes and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra achieved his first great success as a vocalist in the Dorsey band and claimed he learned breath control from watching Dorsey play trombone. Dorsey said his trombone style was heavily influenced by that of Jack Teagarden. Another member of the Dorsey band probably spent considerable time observing and listening to Sy Oliver’s striking arrangements: trombonist Nelson Riddle, whose later partnership as Sinatra’s major arranger and conductor is considered to have revolutionised post-World War II popular music.
Dorsey might have broken up his own band permanently following World War II, as many big bands did thanks to the shift in music economics following the war, and he did disband the orchestra at the end of 1946. But a top-ten selling album (All-Time Hits) made it possible for Dorsey to re-organise a big band in early 1947.
Tommy Dorsey in The Fabulous Dorseys (1947). 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.
The Dorsey brothers themselves later reconciled—Jimmy Dorsey had had to break up his own highly successful big band in 1953, and brother Tommy invited him to join up as a feature attraction—but before long Tommy renamed the band the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. The brothers took the unit on tour and onto their own television show, Stage Show, from 1954-1956—on which they introduced Elvis Presley to In 1956, Tommy Dorsey died at age 51 in his Greenwich, Connecticut home, in 1956, choking in his sleep after a heavy meal following which he’d been sedated with sleeping pills. Jimmy Dorsey (out of whose band Tommy had walked two decades earlier) led his brother’s band until his own death of throat cancer the following year. At that point, trombonist Warren Covington assumed leadership of the band with, presumably, Jane Dorsey’s blessing (she owned the rights to her late husband’s band and name) and it produced, ironically enough, the biggest selling hit record ever released under the Dorsey name. Billed as the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Starring Warren Covington, they topped the charts in 1958 with Tea For Two Cha-Cha. Covington led the Dorsey band through 1970 (he also led and recorded with his own organisation), after which Jane Dorsey renamed it, simply, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which is conducted today by Buddy Morrow. Jane Dorsey died of natural causes around the age of 79 in 2003.
Dorsey’s married life was varied and at times headline making. His first wife was 16 year old Mildred Kraft with whom he eloped while he was 17 in 1922. They had two children. The divorced in 1943. He then wed movie actress Pat Dane in 1943 and they were divorced in 1947, but not before he gained headlines for striking actor Jon Hall when Hall embraced wife Pat. Finally Dorsey married Jane New (b. circa 1924 – August 24, 2003) in 1948 and she remained his wife until his death. She had been a dancer at the world-renowned Copacabana.
Tommy and Jane Dorsey are interred together in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. Sinatra released a tribute album to Dorsey in 1961 entitled I Remember Tommy with arrangements by another Dorsey alumnus, Sy Oliver.
Tenor Sax, b.1926, Toyama, Japan
Alto Sax, b.1964, Kentucky
Vincent Herring is an American jazz saxophonist.
It can be argued with some validity that one’s overall movement through life is reflected in his or her creative endeavor, and Vincent Herring’s strength and versatility on the saxophone can be viewed from this perspective. Although still young, Vincent has already covered a lot of territory, both literally and figuratively. Vincent’s formal musical education began at age 11, when Vincent started playing saxophone in school bands and studying privately at Dean Frederick’s School Of Music in Vallejo California. At age 16, he entered California State University at Chico on a music scholarship. A year later, Vincent auditioned for a spot in the United States Military Academy band. He made the move to West Point, which turned out to be a steppingstone to the New York Jazz scene. He first toured Europe and the United States with Lionel Hampton’s big band, and his progress thereafter has been steady. Vincent has worked with Nat Adderley, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, The Horace Silver Quintet, Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, Larry Coryell, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, The Mingus Big Band, Nancy Wilson, The Roy Hargrove Big Band, Arthur Taylor, Dr. Billy Taylor, Carla Bley, Phil Woods Sax Machine (a band Phil put together, augmenting his regular quintet to an octet with 3 additional alto saxophonist’s). Vincent has appeared as a special guest soloist with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center. Vincent also appeared as a guest soloist with John Faddis and The Carnegie Hall Big Band. While he was amassing these impressive credentials, Vincent was developing his own voice and style. In addition to the legends he first encountered on record Vincent has found himself exposed to a diversity of musical influences. He reflects that it is the art of improvisation that ultimately stimulates him. Vincent has developed into a virtuoso with a voice that is uniquely intense and vigorous with the energy and direction. Vincent has taken bands to Japan & Europe on several occasions and has appeared in nearly every Major Jazz festival in the world. He is also involved in Jazz education, giving clinics throughout Europe and the USA. Vincent has recorded 14 CD’s as a leader and over 200 as a sideman. He is a player who has combined dedication, education and talent to forge an extraordinary career.
Biography from www.vincentherring.com:
Trombone, b.1908 d.1967, Dallas, TX
Piano, b.1927 d.2004, Paris, France
William Thomas “Billy” Strayhorn
Piano, Composer, b.1915 d.1967, Dayton, OH
Billy Strayhorn was an American composer and pianist, perhaps best known for his long and successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington.
Billy Strayhorn was born in Dayton, Ohio. He began his musical career in Pittsburgh, where he studied for a time at the Pittsburgh Music Institute, wrote a high school musical and, while still in his teens, composed “Lush Life,” a work that had all the world weariness of a much older man. He first met Duke Ellington backstage after an Ellington performance in Pittsburgh in 1938, where he first told, and then showed, the band leader how he would have arranged one of Duke’s own pieces. Duke was impressed enough to invite other band members to hear Strayhorn. At the end of the visit he arranged for Strayhorn to meet him when the band returned to New York. Strayhorn worked for Ellington for the next quarter century until his early death from cancer.
Strayhorn’s relationship with Ellington was always difficult to pin down: he was a gifted composer and arranger who seemed to flourish in Duke’s shadow. Ellington may have taken advantage of him, but not in the mercenary way that others had taken advantage of Ellington; instead, he used Strayhorn to complete his thoughts, while giving Strayhorn the freedom to write on his own and at least some of the credit he deserved. Strayhorn, for his part, may have preferred to stay out of the limelight, since that also allowed him to be out of the closet in an era and a community that did not tolerate gay artists.
Strayhorn composed the band’s theme, “Take The A Train,” and a number of other pieces that became part of the band’s repertoire. In some cases they were listed as Strayhorn compositions (“Lotus Blossom,” “Chelsea Bridge,” “Rain Check,” “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” and “Mid-Riff”), while others were listed as collaborations with Ellington (“Day Dream,” “Something to Live For”) or were credited to Ellington alone (“Satin Doll,” “Sugar Hill Penthouse,” “C-Jam Blues”). On the other hand, Ellington gave Strayhorn full credit as his collaborator on later, larger works such as Such Sweet Thunder, A Drum Is a Woman, The Perfume Suite and The Far East Suite, where Strayhorn and Ellington worked closely together.
Strayhorn also had a tremendous impact on the Ellington band for the two decades in which he arranged for him. Ellington always wrote for the personnel he had at the time, showcasing both the personalities and sound of soloists such as Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Ben Webster, Lawrence Brown and Jimmy Blanton, and drawing on the contrasts between players or sections to create a new sound for his band. Strayhorn brought a more linear, classically schooled ear to Ellington’s works, setting down in permanent form the sound and structures that Ellington sought.
Strayhorn’s own work, particularly his pieces written for Johnny Hodges on alto saxophone, often had a bittersweet, languorous flavor. He wrote his last pieces while dying from cancer of the esophagus; he delivered his last piece, “Blue Cloud,” to Ellington while in the hospital. Ellington included that piece, renamed “Blood Count,” on the album, …And His Mother Called Him Bill, that he recorded several months after Strayhorn’s death as a tribute to his friend and collaborator.
More info at http://www.billystrayhorn.com/aboutbss.htm