Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 16, 2014

SINGER: Artpark brother thoughts

Niagara Gazette — Brother problems go back a bit in history — at least to Cain and Abel! I was thinking this a while back when I attended a concert by Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra at Artpark (led by a very old, now deceased Buddy Morrow, once anointed by Dorsey as a kind of successor). The first thing you should know about the late TD: he looked avuncular, i.e., mild-mannered, and his trombone certainly sounded that way, including on smooth recordings he made with a young Sinatra; but Tommy was as tough as the Pennsylvania coal country whence he hailed.

His brother, Jimmy Dorsey, split from him in the 1930s and had his own orchestra, and they were very different — Jimmy the sweeter one, including in his playing on reed instruments. But by the early ‘50s Jimmy was busy drinking himself to death in a New York hotel, and the brothers’ blunt old mother enjoined Tommy to fish him out of there. Near the end of both their lives they joined forces again, then Tommy died in 1956, and somewhat bereft, Jimmy followed soon after.

Staying with old music, I know less about the Crosby brothers, except that Bing was obviously more famous than his brother Bob, a bandleader. But Bob seemed more akin to Jimmy Dorsey in terms of personality. Bing’s character? I hesitate to knock the man whose rendering of Berlin’s “White Christmas” is truly iconic. Not to mention his roles in old movies and the rest that so often appear on TV.

And yet, I always denoted a certain coolness in his music, and while he may have been nicer to his second family, he was certainly a rough father to his first, especially to Gary Crosby, whose memoir “Going My Own Way” seems as true to a sad growing-up reality as Christina Crawford’s “Mommie Dearest” on her ultra- demanding mom, Joan Crawford.

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