Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tommy Dorsey: Jazz Superstar

Tommy Dorsey had a brief life, but during those years he accomplished a lot in the world of jazz. He was born in 1905 and died in 1956, at the age of 51. Tommy and his brother Jimmy were both successful jazz band leaders. The two brothers performed together often, until a falling out in 1935. The two did not speak to each other for many years. By 1953, the Dorsey Brothers took on television projects, including working with Jackie Gleason.

Over the years, many legendary performers were part of Dorsey's band, including Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra (1940-1942), Nelson Riddle, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich and more. It was said that Frank Sinatra learned breath control after watching Dorsey's technique on the trombone. Between 1941 and 1951, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra appeared in ten films. He had an incredible amount of Billboard hits, numbering 286, with 17 number one hits in the 1930s and 1940s. Dorsey was known as a perfectionist with a short temper. He would "steal" performers that he liked from other bands and put them in his own. He was married three times.

A prime example of a Tommy Dorsey big band classic can be seen here. The song "Well Git It" was a showcase for Dorsey's collection of talented performers. The song had a drum solo, a clarinet solo, a solo featuring dueling pianos and alternating trumpet solos. The vitality of this music made it exciting and contagious for listeners. Buddy Rich performed this song on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, with Doc Severinsen and the band.

*Information from and

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Entertainment's Renaissance Man: Quincy Jones

We have all heard the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none." Many times that is true. People should focus on being great at one thing. But, there are some people who are exceptions to the rule. Quincy Jones is just such a person. The versatility of his talents is staggering. Few have achieved more in the world of entertainment, with excellence achieved in many disciplines.

Quincy is best known for his musical talents. In 1953 at age 20, he toured with jazz great Lionel Hampton as a trumpet player, pianist and arranger. He arranged music for some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and even Frank Sinatra. His ear for music led him to produce some groundbreaking songs such as the 1985 charity song We are the World. He produced albums for Michael Jackson including Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987).

He was the founder of Vibe magazine and he had his own TV production company which produced Mad TV, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and others. He was the co-producer of the film The Color Purple. He won a Tony Award for the Broadway revival of that production.

Jones has been awarded ten honorary doctorate degrees. He is only one of 17 people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy an Oscar and a Tony Award. As a matter of fact, he has won 27 Grammys! At age 84 he is still tacking new challenges as a producer for various projects. In 2001 he released his autobiography. Always one to keep up with the latest technology, he launched his own podcast in 2007.

Here is a clip of the 2001 Kennedy Center Honors. Jones was recognized for his work, where he was treated by a performance that brought together Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

Jones' net worth is an estimated $400 million.

* Information from and