by Ted Gottsegen
The older of the two Dorsey brothers was a child prodigy who began his musical career at the age seven playing the slide trumpet and cornet with his father's brass band at local parties. His father was a working class man who wanted a better life for his children and made them study music, diligently. By the time he was 17, Jimmy was playing with the Jean
Goldkette band with Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer.
During the 1920's the Goldkette Orchestra had broken up, and Jimmy, along
with Bix and Trumbauer joined Paul Whiteman's group.
Jimmy left Whiteman's
group and freelanced around playing with Red Nichols. In 1933 Jimmy and
younger brother Tommy formed their famous Dorsey Brothers Orchestra which included
drummer Ray McKinley, trombonist Glenn Miller and singer Bob Crosby.
By 1935, continued feuding between the two brothers led to a break-up of
the band. In 1938 Jimmy participated in some of the infamous Friday
afternoon jam sessions at the Park Lane Hotel organized by Eddie Condon
which included Pee Wee Russell, Sidney Bechet, Bobby Hackett, Willie
"The Lion" Smith, Bud Freeman, Hot Lips Page, Bunny Berigan and Red
Jimmy began a new band which was a commercial success featuring popular singers Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly. In 1953, a few years after the release of the motion picture "The Fabulous Dorseys", Jimmy and Tommy
reunited and continued playing together until Tommy's death in 1956. Jimmy continued leading the band until ill-health forced him to retire from music permanently. He died in mid-1957