Tommy Dorsey (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956) was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter and bandleader in the Big Band era. Known as “the sentimental gentleman of swing,” He was the younger brother of Jimmy Dorsey.
Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania and started out only 16 years later in Allentown, Pennsylvania with big band album Russ Morgan in the famous pick-up band of the 1920s "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"The band featured a number of the best instrumentalists in jazz at the time, including (the list is far more extensive than what we list here) Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, George Seaberg, Carl "Doc" Severinsen, and Charlie Shavers, Sy Oliver, Buddy DeFranco, Johnny Mince and Peanuts Hucko, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Gene Krupa and Dave Tough 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.
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 national television audiences, among others.
In 1956, Tommy Dorsey died at age 51 in his Greenwich, Connecticut home, choking in his sleep after a heavy meal following which he had 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 organization), after which Jane Dorsey renamed it, simply, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which is conducted today by Buddy Morrow, featuring vocalist Rob Zappulla. Jane Dorsey died of natural causes around the age of 79 in 2003. (info mainly Wikipedia)
As there are so many recordings by Tommy, it was very hard to choose just one record, so I have opted for two. The first being his signature tune "I'm gettin' sentimental over you" recorded 18 October 1935.
And here's my favourite, "Opus One," recorded in Hollywood 14 November 1944
Today's video is a clip of "The Song Of India" from 1941.