Tommy Dorsey Orchestra to perform at Richland High

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerApril 5, 2013 

Renowned big band leader Tommy Dorsey is remembered as the sentimental gentleman of swing.

In the years since his death in 1956, new generations of musicians have carried Dorsey's swingin' big band sound to fans worldwide. The group is still going strong.

The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra comes to the Tri-Cities on April 8 for a one-night show in the auditorium at Richland High School. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to $15 and are available at brownpapertickets.com.

The concert is sponsored by the Hanford High School Music Department and Association. Music teachers Kevin Swisher and Chris Newbury try to regularly bring in guest artists.

"Chris Newbury and I feel that it is our responsibility as teachers to provide the most thorough and in-depth education we can for our high school students," Swisher said.

Swisher and Newbury brought the Count Basie Jazz Orchestra to town last year.

"We lucked out when we were asked to host the Count Basie Jazz Orchestra because a group in Vancouver was unable to make (their concert) work," Swisher said. "They suggested us here in the Tri-Cities."

Swisher mentioned to the agency that represents the Basie orchestra to keep the Tri-Cities in mind if other big-name orchestras had free days from normal tour dates to play at smaller venues.

"They came back with the Tommy Dorsey band, and we're thrilled," he said. "Big band music is a very important part of the history of American jazz music, and students should know about the entire Dorsey family and their bands."

When Tommy Dorsey died, his older brother Jimmy took over the reigns of the orchestra, but Jimmy died a year after his brother. Then trombonist Warren Covington served as bandleader, topping the music charts in 1958 with such songs as Tea for Two Cha Cha. Sam Donahue took over from Covington in 1961 and stayed until the late 1960s, when Buddy Morrow became bandleader. Morrow died in 2010.

Today, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra is led by Terry Myers.

Opening for the Dorsey band will be Hanford High's jazz ensemble, which recently returned from performing at the Northwest Division Conference of the National Association for Music Education.

"This is also another piece of our educational puzzle," Swisher said. "We try hard to find great performance opportunities for all of our students."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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