"BIG BAND NEWS"
compiled by Music Librarian
New Leader Chosen for
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
In 1956, the unexpected death of legendary big band leader and trombonist Tommy Dorsey shocked the music world.
A year and a half later, after the courts processed T.D.'s estate, a new Dorsey Orchestra was formed, under the direction of trombonist Warren Covington, who led it until the fall of 1961 and then went out under his own name.
At that time, tenor saxophonist Sam Donahue was hired to lead the band, which he did, featuring Frank Sinatra, Jr. as its lead male vocalist, until the Dorsey name was dropped in 1965.
The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way
Another trombonist, famed studio musician Urbie Green, conducted a Dorsey group for an engagement at the Riverboat in New York City from late 1966 into early 1967. Reportedly, he and Tommy's widow, Janie New, didn't get along, so Green resigned.
For a number of years afterwards, there was no Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at all.
In April 1974, trombonist and respected big band sideman Murray McEachern was approved to reform a Dorsey band, but, after two years with the group, he suffered a debilitating stroke.
Talented trombonist Bill Watrous was considered for leadership role, but he and New clashed while he was under consideration.
Then, in 1977, popular bandleader and trombonist Buddy Morrow agreed to direct the band, supposedly only intending to stay for a short time until a permanent director could be found. However, it turned out that he enjoyed it so much, he remained at the helm for more than 30 years! It was only with Morrow's death at the age of 91 last September that The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra was, again, without a front man.
This year, a new director has been selected, and it may come as a surprise to some: he is Nick Hilscher, perhaps best known as a former vocalist with The Glenn Miller Orchestra under Larry O'Brien's direction, but who, more recently, had been singing with Morrow and the Dorsey crew.
In fact, Hilscher told me that it was in accordance with Buddy's wishes that he be given the reins of the band.
"There has really not been an official announcement made yet concerning this," Hilscher added. "But, Buddy Morrow Productions, under the management of Buddy's wife Carol, is promoting the orchestra presently under my leadership as The One and Only Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Featuring Nick Hilscher."
Morrow had undergone cancer surgery on his tongue in 2001, so the band had been working on and off since.
"Our performances have been minimal anyway over the past several years due to Buddy’s health during that period," Hilscher acknowledged. "With the passing of Buddy Morrow we’ve been going through a time of transition and have had a period here where we’ve not been performing."
But now, in 2011, things are picking up.
"We performed several shows in January at Busch Gardens and have a string of performances coming up at the end of April," Hilscher said. "There will be some updates on my website, www.nickhilscher.com, concerning the upcoming dates in April as well as my moving into the leadership role as we transition further."
This month's shows are Apr. 26-27, Penn's Peak, Jim Thorpe, PA; Apr. 28, Mars Area Senior High School, Mars, PA; and Apr. 29, The State Theatre, State College, PA.
Best wishes, Nick, in your latest success, keeping Tommy Dorsey's legacy going!
Also On the Road
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Dennis Mackrel. Apr. 22, Symphony Center,
Cab Calloway Orchestra directed by C. Calloway Brooks. Apr. 13, Jackson Community
College, Jackson, MI.
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra directed by Bill Tole. Apr. 2, University of Mississippi, Meridian,
MS; Apr. 16, Yakima, WA.
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke. Apr. 29, Association of Professional
Orchestra Leaders (APOL) "Dinner-Dance and Scholarship Fundraiser," Poretta's
Banquets, Chicago, IL; Apr. 30, Maquoketa, IA.
Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians directed by Al Pierson. Apr. 2, Hamilton Fine Arts
Center, Sessex, WI.
Hal McIntyre Orchestra directed by Don Pentleton. Apr. 9, Moseley's On the Charles,
Dedham, MA; Apr. 29, The Amazing Things Center for the Arts, Framingham, MA.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Gary Tole. Apr. 1, Walhalla Civic Auditorium, Walhalla,
SC; Apr. 2, Alabama [ sic ] Theatre, Myrtle Beach, SC; Apr. 3, The Township Auditorium,
Columbia, SC; Apr. 5, Cross Creek Country Club, Mount Airy, NC; Apr. 8, private, Army-
Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA; Apr. 9, Mar-Va Theatre, Pocomoke City, MD; Apr. 12,
Paramount Theatre, Anderson, IN; Apr. 14, Stoughton Opera House, Stoughton, WI; Apr.
15, Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, MI; Apr. 16, Tibbits Opera House, Coldwater,
MI; Apr. 17, Reuther Auditorium, Kenosha, WI; Apr. 29, Chapman Cultural Center,
Orrin Tucker, 100, d.Apr. 9, 2011. Bandleader ('33-ca.'80s).
Happy Birthday to You
Boomie Richman, b.Apr. 2, 1921. Tenor saxophonist with Paxton '44-'45; T. Dorsey '45-'51
[ off and on ]; Goodman '51 / '52 / '53 / '54 / '55 / '58; Reynolds '55 "Songs for Happy
Doris Day, b.Apr. 3, 1924. Vocalist with Crosby '40; Brown '40-'41 / '44-'46.
Slide Hampton, b.Apr. 21, 1932. Trombonist with B. Johnson '55-'57; Hampton '58;
Ferguson '58-'59; and leader of the Gillespie All Star Big Band '04- .
Mundell Lowe, b.Apr.21, 1922. Guitarist with McKinley '46-47.
Bea Wain, b.Apr. 30, 1917. Vocalist with Shaw '37 (If It's the Last Thing I Do); Clinton
photograph by Tim Redman
New Compact Discs
Louis Armstrong. "Louis and the Angels/Louis and the Good Book," Phoenix Records
131502. NOTE: Both albums previously paired on a single CD in 1998 (MCA
MCLD19379). Recorded 1957-58.
Count Basie. "Complete Live at the Americana Hotel 1959," Solar Records 4569897.
2-CD set with the Roulette LP "Breakfast Dance and Barbecue" and bonus tracks from
that performance, plus selections from a 1958 Basie band appearance at the
Crescendo Club. NOTE: "Breakfast Dance and Barbecue," with 10 bonus tracks, came
out in 2001 as Roulette Jazz 7243 5 31791 2, and, before that, all of the May 31, 1959
Americana program was on "The Complete Roulette Live Recordings of Count Basie
and His Orchestra (1959-1962) numbered on CD as Mosaic MD8-135.
---. "On the Beatles," Phoenix Records 131503. The 1969 "Basie On the Beatles" LP
paired with, ridiculously, "The Atomic Mr. Basie" LP. How many times do companies
have to re-release the "Atomic" material? NOTE: Both previously available on CD,
including "Basie On the Beatles" (Ocium OCM 0022).
Duke Ellington. "Bal Masque," Essential Jazz Classics EJC55504. NOTE: Everything
previously available on CD as part of "Duke's Mixture / Bal Masque" (Collectables
COL-CD-7856) and on "Unknown Session" (Columbia [ Fr ] 472084).
Roy Eldridge. "Three Classic Albums Plus," Avid [ UK ] 1024. 2-CD set with "Roy and
Diz," "Little Jazz," Swing Goes Dixie," plus seven of the eight tracks from "Coleman
Hawkins and Roy Eldridge At the Opera House."
---. "Swing Goes Dixie," Phoenix Records 131501. Equals the 1955 Verve MG-V1010
album with additional tracks.
Benny Goodman. "AFRS Benny Goodman Show Volume 6," Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ]
DSOY849. "Volume six of the AFRS Benny Goodman Shows marks a departure from
the previous shows in as much as Victor Borge the Danish pianist/comedian comes to
the fore and out goes comedian Peter Donald." Note that AFRS' numbering of the
programs jumps from 10 to 13, because show numbers 11 and 12, though inscribed as
BG, were actually by the Al Sack and Ray Bloch orchestras.
Coleman Hawkins. "Three Classic Albums Plus," Avid [ UK ] 1025. 2-CD set with "Bean
Bags," "The Genius of Coleman Hawkins," "Night Hawk." plus three live recordings.
---. "Night Hawk / Very Saxy," Essential Jazz Classics EJC55501. Recorded 1959-60.
Ted Heath. "The Fauthful Hussar: Rare Transcription Recordings of the 1950s, Volume 2,"
Vocalion [ UK ] CDEA 6186. Recorded in 1955-56. Liner notes by Tony Middleton.
Glenn Miller. "The Glenn Miller Orchestra Plays Harry Warren," Sounds of YesterYear
[ UK ] DSOY850. Selections range from original Miller performances, starting in
1938, to Tex Beneke's leadership of the Miller Orchestra into 1950.
Buddy Morrow. "The Essential Collection," United States of Distribution 46187. 2-CD
set of the LPs "Night Train" (RCA Victor LPM-1427), "Big Band Guitar," "Impact,"
"Double Impact," and "Shall We Dance." NOTE: only the latter is new to CD.
Various artists. "The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings: Volume 4," Archeophone
ARCH 3005. Final volume of series. 2-CD set. Includes Spitalny and Vallee.
---. "Three Evenings with Fred Astaire," Sepia [ UK ] 1168. 2-CD set of three of Astaire's
TV specials from 1958-60, including Count Basie and His Orchestra on "Astaire Time."
---. "The Timex All-Star Jazz Shows: Volume 1." Mr. Music 9001. 2-CD set with Herman,
Armstrong, Ellington, Krupa, Teagarden, others. The shows are from December 30,
1957 and April 30, 1958.
New In-Print and / or Online
Jeremy D. Bonfiglio. "It's Miller time at Mendel: New band leader is well-versed in
Glenn Miller chestnuts," [ St. Joseph, MI ] Herald-Palladium, Apr. 14, 2011. Gary Tole,
new director of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, says that it was a "huge honor" for him to
be asked to front the band and that he's "always been a fan of Glenn Miller."
Sally Holland. "First integrated, female big band highlighted at Smithsonian," CNN,
Apr. 1, 2011. Celebrating The International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Former Sweethearts
saxophonist Rosalind Cron urged young people to stick with their music, cautioning,
"Don't let anyone come between you and your horns, or music."
LBG1. "Doris Day Birthday: Note to MSNBC, Liz Taylor Wasn't the 'Last Movie Star,'"
deathby1000papercuts.com, Apr. 3, 2011.
Lee Mergner. "Jazz Recordings Among the 25 New Additions to National Recording
egistry," Jazz Times, Apr. 8, 2011. The Library of Congress has now selected It's the
Girl, recorded in 1931 for Brunswick by The Boswell Sisters accompanied by The
Dorsey Brothers, and the first "Jazz At the Philharmonic" concert, performed on July 2,
1944, with Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Rich, and others.
John R. Tumpak. "Jimmy Rushing," L.A. Jazz Scene, Apr. 2011, p.3+. Tumpak recalls
the life and career of Rushing, one of Count Basie's famous vocalists.
Stan Kenton and Vaughn Monroe fans won't want to miss next month's "Big Band News." 'Nuff said.