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Swing Set

Tommy Dorsey: "Marie"

By Published: June 25, 2005

Berigan's solo wasn't developed on the spot, but was a result of time spent working through various choices, flipping phrases around and changing a note here and there. But what emerged in the final recording was a dazzling display that defies that it could be played any better. Dorsey apparent thought so, too; once Berigan left the band, he scored the entire solo (as well as his equally fine moment on "Song Of India ) for the whole trumpet section as a tribute. Other solos follow in "Marie, but after Berigan the highlights are over.


Although he fronted his own outfit for a time, Berigan occasionally returned to the Dorsey bandstand, albeit rarely matching his former glory. Once in 1940 Berigan was set to do a radio show for NBC with Dorsey and had dinner beforehand. When the trumpeter got up to perform his solo on "Marie he fell off the bandstand. Later Dorsey checked his dinner tab and found that Berigan's dinner consisted of 12 scotch and sodas and a ham sandwich. This was the beginning of the end for Berigan, who died shortly thereafter in ill health. He was replaced by Ziggy Elman, who had enjoyed success in the Goodman band.

Dorsey continued to plug on, long after swing became unfashionable. Eventually, just like many other bandleaders, Dorsey was unable to afford to keep a big band on the road. He and his brother managed to put aside their differences to play together from time to time, but never with the success that was reached with "Marie. That song remains one of the great accomplishments of the Swing Era, a record that combines a great song, a perfect arrangement and a spectacular solo.

Dupuis, Robert. Bunny Berigan: Elusive Legend of Jazz. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993.
Sandford, Herb. Tommy and Jimmy: The Dorsey Years. New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1972.
Schuller, Gunther. The Swing Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Sudhalter, Richard M. Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution To Jazz 1915-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
The Swing Era: 1936-1937. Jay Gold, ed. New York: Time Life Records, 1970.

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