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T. D. and Me
by Hector Bourg Jr.
Trombone EDITOR'S NOTE The late Hector (Butch) Bourg harbored a lifelong admiration for Tommy Dorsey after meeting him in the mid 50's. He was impressed not only by Dorsey's flawless trombone playing but his attention to professionalism and the small details that make a band entertaining and interesting. He took Tommy's lesson to heart and always made the point that "professional" extends to appearance and conduct on the stand. Here is his account of that very formative youthful experience.


In the summer of 1956 I was newly graduated from high school and nervously awaiting my freshman year at the University of Southern Mississippi. During that time my uncle, Russ Dailey, was a major in the US Air Force, and manager of the Officer's Club at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. Uncle Russ was a huge fan of big bands and booked them into the club as often as he could... a task which was approaching impossible. Most of the big bands were already history by then, but uncle Russ found a few that summer, including that of Tommy Dorsey!

Knowing of my awe and reverence for the great TD, my uncle invited me to the club to witness the performance. Once there, he sheparded me down a long back hallway to a small door, knocked and went in. Sitting there in a spotless white tux, drinking a chocolate milkshake, was T. D. himself!

My uncle then excused himself and left me alone in the dressing room with my trombone idol! I was, needless to say, in total awe... and filled with apprehension. I had read all those reports about what a "martinet" T. D. could be (and his legendary temper) and just his celebrity status was a bit overwhelming to this pimply-faced, still gawky teen-ager. What followed could not have been more wonderful!

We talked about big bands, trombone playing, his music, my high school big band and more. I confess that my awe erased most of the specific words of our converstaion from my memory... but he could not have been nicer to me! Thirty minutes later a knock on the door announced, "5 minutes, Mr. Dorsey!" I began stammering my gratitude for his spending so much time with me and told him that I was going to run on around to the ballroom so I could find a good seat for the performance.

Tommy stood up and saying, "Nah...don't do that." He grabbed the little chrome and plastic dressing room chair in one hand, turned to the the door behind him which opened directly on to the bandstand, pulled it open...and there sat the Dorsey trumpet section! Tommy then placed the chair next to the nearest trumpet player (whom I now believe was probably Doc Severinsen), turned to me and said, "Sit here, I think you'll enjoy this a lot more!"

Within a few minutes the opening notes of "Sentimental Over You" ushered me into the happiest time I've ever spent on a bandstand!
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