Take a spin with Golden Graham's choice album reviews

Box-set CoverTommy Dorsey

The Sentimental Gentleman Of Swing

Bluebird/Legecy 82876711672


November 19th 2005 marked the Centennial of Tommy Dorsey. Sony/BMG Bluebird Label presents the single most comprehensive portrait of Tommy Dorsey ever created on disc. A 3 CD box set Tommy Dorsey - The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing comes complete with a 24-page book including photos of Tommy Dorsey with several of the artists and musicians that he worked with over the years. Dorsey worked with some of the best, including female singers Jo Stafford, Edythe Wright, Connie Haynes, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, a young Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and many, many more. Peter J. Levinson author of the Tommy Dorsey biography: Livin' In A Great Big Way adds the introduction.

Tommy was two years younger than his sax-clarinet playing brother Jimmy. Born to a band director and music teacher in Pennsylvania, they started out playing with bands such as the local band Scranton Sirens, the New York-based Californian Ramblers and the jazz-king himself Paul Whiteman. Jimmy would join a band and tell the bandleader about his trombone-playing brother. Their mother said "Jimmy went first and then sent for Tommy…. that's the way it's always been."

Disc One "The Sideman" showcases Dorsey as a first-call studio and jazz player. The first Jimmy and Tommy Dorseytrack "Dusting The Donkey (aka The Pay-Off)" from 1925 and recorded with the Golden Gate Orchestra sees Tommy and Jimmy playing alongside cornet player Red Nichols. The 25 tracks on Disc One takes us through the early bands that both Tommy and Jimmy played with and accompanying artists such as Ethel Waters, Bing Crosby and the harmony group the Boswell Sisters in the early 1930's.

In 1934 the Dorsey brothers decided it was time for them to start a band of their own, The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Unfortunately the two brothers got on as well together as did Cain & Abel. The mixture of fiery Irish temperaments and copious amounts of alcohol added up to a cocktail that produced a nasty hangover with the two brothers even reverting to fisticuffs. After a heated row onstage at the Glenn Island Casino in 1935 Tommy Dorsey walked off the stage and ended the brothers partnership.

Disc Two "The Leader" spotlights many of the Dorsey Band hits. In 1937 the Dorsey orchestra had a million-seller with "Marie" composed by Irving Berlin. "Boogie Woogie" followed this a year later and in 1941 Dorsey had his third million-selling single with "There Are Such Things" featuring a young Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers on vocals (I am surprised that this photos of Tommy Dorsey with several of the artists that he worked withnumber isn't included in the project). In 1944 Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra had two further million-sellers with "Opus #1" and "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" and can be found here in all their sophisticated glory.

Tommy's career continued to soar with his orchestra being recognised as one of the finest around. Perhaps the late Artie Shaw explained the central work ethic of Tommy Dorsey when he once said, "Dorsey demanded discipline, and he got it!!!" Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston and Sy Oliver were among the top arrangers who passed through the ranks. Top-rate musicians such as trumpet virtuosos Bunny Berrigan and Charlie Shavers, trombonists Nelson Riddle and Buddy Morrow as well as drummers Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa passed through the band.

In 1953 Jimmy rejoined his brothers orchestra and the new Dorsey Brothers Orchestra became extremely popular, with regular appearances on Television.

Disc Three "The Air Checks" captures Dorsey sound in its full glory. . Dorsey employed some Tommy Dorseyof the top vocalists who were themselves to go on to further their own solo singing career such as Frank Sinatra who replaced vocalist Dick Haymes in 1940 and Jo Stafford replacing Connie Haines as the lead vocalist with the harmony group The Pied Pipers. The 21 tracks…some of which are live takes start off in 1938 and continue through the 40's featuring the afore mentioned artists as well as Duke Ellington with this whole wonderful collection climaxing with a live cut of the unproven Elvis Presley appearing on Stage Show a weekly TV variety program co-hosted by the Dorsey Brothers in 1956.

In November 1956 Jimmy once again found himself leader of the Dorsey band when Tommy died suddenly after choking in his sleep. This venture sadly was short lived as Jimmy died in June 1957 suffering with throat cancer.

Over the past decades the music of Tommy Dorsey has been kept alive with numerous album releases. Now this definitive collection The Sentimental Gentleman Of Swing offers all swing fans the opportunity to experience the grand multi-faceted music of Tommy Dorsey….a perfect vehicle that will certainly draw new fans to the sensational music of one of the greatest dance band leaders in musical history…Tommy Dorsey.