Tommy Dorsey: Song of India


Song of India


Tommy Dorsey (trombone)


The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing: Centennial Collection (Bluebird/Legacy 711672)

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Tommy Dorsey (trombone), Bunny Berigan (trumpet), Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Dave Tough (drums),

BJimmy Welch, Joe Bauer, Bob Cusumano (trumpet); Les Jenkins, Red Bone (trombone); Joe Dixon (clarinet, alto sax), Fred Stulce, Clyde Rounds (alto sax), Dick Jones (piano), Carmen Mastren (guitar), Gene Traxler (bass)


Composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Arranged by Tommy Dorsey & Red Bone


Recorded: New York, January 29, 1937


Rating: 73/100 (learn more)

Rimsky-Korsakov's 1898 opera Sadko depicts a Russian harpist who deserts wife and home for foreign adventure. During his travels he acquires Wife #2 and a fortune. When he returns, everyone rejoices, including Wife #1, who's retained a shrewd divorce lawyer and reduces hapless Harpo to his musical souvenirs, notably the "Song of India." Plugged with a Solotone mute to render this melody in a freakish sopranino register approximating a muted trumpet, TD's trombone is as pretty and as phony as the fixed smiles at a debutante ball. The only jazz here is Berigan's real trumpet, standing out grandly like a moonlit Taj Mahal.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


  • 1 Alex // Jun 16, 2009 at 02:48 AM
    I disagree with your characterization of this track as phony and mostly not jazz. Song of India is an excellent example of Dorsey's incredible purity of tone and technical control in the instrument's upper register. I understand your reasoning for demeaning it, but that shallow characterization does not do justice to the incredible virtuosity that lies beneath it. "Pretty" (snuck in as a back-handed compliment) doesn't begin to describe the craft of what Dorsey is doing here. By many criteria, Dorsey was not a "real" jazz musician: he detested improvisation, made a lot of money, and was closely aligned with the commercial powers-that-be of the swing era. But that doesn't take away the fact that he was an absolutely brilliant technician on the trombone.