A Tiger

These last several days, I've been listening to late '20's stuff – Louis, Duke, Bix with and without Whiteman
, Venuti and Lang ... that sort of thing. I've been listening, because that's what I do at home, absorb music, but also, I suppose, because I've been seeking a happy aural diversion from my very frequent thoughts of Nelson ... whom I miss. Popular music sides from the late '20's, be they entirely jazz or merely jazz-infused, were, in large part, very peppy (silly word, peppy, isn't it?) – much more so than the Depression-response crooner records that immediately followed. This afternoon, I was distracted in my reflections on a member, dear to me, of the canine community by a few insistent blasts announcing my all-time favorite treatment of a tune about an elusive member of the feline community: "Tiger Rag," recorded 11/10/28 and heralded on the record label as "A Trumpet Specialty by Tom Dorsey."

Those whose interest in Tommy Dorsey, prominent swing band leader, extends beyond merely casual are aware that the smiling, bespectacled musician was not only a virtuouso trombonist but also an extremely interesting, industrious and wholly original trumpet player. For the liner notes for "The Dorsey Brothers Vol. 1 – Recorded in New York, 1928," Jeff Healey offered these astute observations on the dichotomy of TD, the brassman:

A comment on the trumpet-playing of Tommy Dorsey should be made here. If ever a musician displayed, albeit musically, a split personality, it is Tommy. Although justifiably rated as one of the finest trombonists ever to master the instrument, Tommy was a better "straight" than "hot" player on the trombone. In fact, he all but gave up attempting jazz solos by the time he organized his first orchestra under his own name in 1935. His trumpet-playing, on the other hand, is always "hot," if not always precise. There is always a sense of agitated urgency in his tone.

I love Tommy's pithy statements in the verse section as well as the way he turns up the heat with each successive "Hold that tiger!" line. And yet he's so uninhibited and spontaneous; he just lets it go. The way he wails through that final straight mute chorus: Man! I dig Jimmy Williams galumphing bass, also. As for Eddie Lang ... well, with him on your date, you just don't need no piano player!

All this talk of tigers made me think of an amusing scene from one of my Swinging '60's-London favorites. ... I wonder what TD would think of this juxtaposition. Something tells me he wouldn't find it very gear/fab.

They're holdin' him, no?