“Liebestraum” (1937) with Tommy Dorsey

Composed by Franz Liszt; arranged by Carmen Mastren.

Recorded by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra for Victor on February 18, 1937 in New York.

Tommy Dorsey, trombone, directing: Andy Ferretti, first trumpet; Jimmy Welch and Joe Bauer, trumpets; Artie Foster, E.W. “Red” Bone and Les Jenkins, trombones; Freddie Stulce, first alto saxophone; Don “Slats” Long, alto saxophone; Clyde Rounds and Bud Freeman, tenor saxophones; (All saxophonists double on B-flat clarinets.) Dick Jones, piano; Carmen Mastren, guitar; Gene Traxler, bass; Dave Tough, drums; Bunny Berigan, solo trumpet.

The story.

The story about what Bunny Berigan was doing in late December of 1936 through January of 1937 is told in the posts here at bunnyberiganmrtrumpet.com on “Marie” and “Song of India.” Suffice it to say, he was up to his neck in the details and work required to start and break-in his own band during that time. The frenetic pace of these activities increased through February. Berigan had worked as hard was humanly possible through 1936 and into 1937 with his objective being to form and lead his own band. In February of 1937, that dream was coming true for him.

The new Berigan band debuted in early February of 1937 at the Meadowbrook Ballroom in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. It was a spirited group, led by a charismatic, inspired trumpet virtuoso and jazz master. Although critical reaction to the new Berigan band was mixed, they auditioned for a sponsored network radio show in mid-February of 1937, right after they closed at the Meadowbrook, and got the job. They also got a job making a couple of transcribed radio shows for Norge appliances. They must have been doing something right. Recordings of the band from early 1937 reveal that that they, and especially Bunny, were doing a lot that was right.

Berigan in conversation with Tommy Dorsey – early 1937 – possibly backstage at the Commodore Hotel in Manhattan. The man at right is Arthur Michaud who was then the personal manager of both Bunny Berigan and Tommy Dorsey.

Part of Bunny’s plan during this time was to make as much money as possible to help offset the expenses required to start his own band. That meant that he continued his work at CBS as the featured performer on that network’s very popular weekly radio show The Saturday Night Swing Club. It also meant that he would work with Tommy Dorsey on his weekly radio show, and make recordings with TD. He also worked when he could with Tommy’s band on the various dance jobs they had. To say that Bunny Berigan was crazy busy during this time would just about describe the situation.

Here is a summary of Bunny’s activities on February 16-17, 1937. There is some confusion about when the Berigan band closed at the Meadowbrook. I think it was on Tuesday, February 16. Other sources have it on Wednesday, the 17th. To sort this out a bit, we must isolate the facts we are sure of: (1) The Berigan band recorded on the 17th for ARC; (2) Hymie Shertzer, then playing first alto saxophone for Benny Goodman, was on that record date with the Berigan band; (3) The Goodman band was then playing at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York in the evening. They broadcast that evening over WABC–New York; (4) Bunny also was present at Tommy Dorsey’s Victor recording session on the 17th, and that session took place from 9:00 to 12:30 (We don’t know if this was in the morning or the evening.); and (5) Tommy Dorsey’s band was working at the Commodore Hotel in New York in the evening. In light of what we know actually happened on Wednesday, February 17, I have concluded that the Berigan band’s last night at the Meadowbrook was Tuesday, February 16. From February 3rd to the 16th encompassed exactly two weeks. I think it would have been physically impossible, (even for Bunny) to have (1) worked with Tommy Dorsey’s band on a Victor recording session from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; then (2) led his own band through a four-tune recording session at ARC in the afternoon of that same day; and then (3) traveled with his band to the Meadowbrook in New Jersey, and played a four-hour gig that evening. Since the Dorsey band was working at the Commodore Hotel in the evening, I must conclude that they recorded in the morning of February 18. Since Bunny’s band probably did not have an engagement on the evening of the 17th, it is likely that he rested a bit in the afternoon, then started recording with his own band later in the day of the 17th. Bunny likely paid Benny Goodman to release Hymie Shertzer for the evening, and get a sub in the Goodman sax section, because Benny’s band was then working at the Pennsylvania Hotel. I do think that Goodman may have done this favor for Bunny under the circumstances. It is days like this that truly give one a deeper understanding of why Bunny Berigan drank.

Berigan’s February 18 recording session with Tommy Dorsey would be his last for three years. His appearance on The Saturday Night Swing Club show on February 27 would be his last as a regular performer on that show. By the end of February, Bunny Berigan was finally the full-time leader of his own band.

Tommy Dorsey and his band at the Commodore Hotel in New York, February 1937. L-R: Bunny Berigan, Les Jenkins, TD, Joe Dixon, Gene Traxler and Freddie Stulce. The face behind TD’s slide may be that of Carmen Mastren.

Through February of 1937, Bunny’s management team was behind him, pushing hard. Right after he and his band closed at the Meadowbrook o February 16, the Berigan band auditioned for a sponsored radio program. Billboard carried this item in its February 27, 1937, issue: “Admiracion Shampoo auditioned Bunny Berigan and his Orchestra, and Tim (Ryan) and Irene (Noblette) for a coast-to-coast Mutual set-up last week.”(1)  At about this same time, Rockwell-O’Keefe, which was Bunny’s booking agent in early 1937 (soon to be replaced by MCA), was angling to get his band a job making transcriptions for a series of shows to be sponsored by the Norge appliance company. Here is some of the trade paper buzz about that project:  

Norge Refrigerators is readying a series of transcriptions to be used this spring and summer for an extensive spot campaign. Bands and guest stars are being used for each 15 minute recording, with each recording using a different aggregation. The deal is being set through the Cramer-Kraselt Co., Milwaukee.” (Variety: February 19, 1937.)

The Cramer-Kraselt Company, Milwaukee, has started cutting the 39 quarter-hour discs for Norge Refrigerators. The campaign will run 39 weeks, starting April 1st. Talent is booked for the series through the Rockwell-O’Keefe agency and includes Ray Noble, Annette Hanshaw, Barry McKinney, The Mills Brothers, ‘Aunt Jemima,’ Louis Armstrong, Victor Young, Connie Boswell, Josephine Tumminia, Cliff Edwards and Tim and Irene.” (Billboard: February 24, 1937.)

“Norge Sets Wax Name Campaign: ‘ The biggest name splash by the transcription route in a long time by an advertiser is the series just closed for the Norge refrigerator company. The ad agency is Cramer-Kraselt, with Rockwell O’Keefe setting the talent. Included among the names to do spots are Annette Hanshaw, Barry McKinney, Ray Noble and his Orchestra, Victor Young and his Orchestra, ‘Aunt Jemima’ (Tess Gardella), Louis Armstrong, Cliff Edwards, The Mills Brothers, Josephine Tumminia, Connie Boswell, Tim Ryan and Irene Noblette. Decca is grinding the platters which will run for 39 weeks, quarter hours weekly. (Variety: February  27, 1937.) (2)

It would appear from the above that the Bunny Berigan band, Frances Faye and the comedy duo of Howard and Shelton were probably added to the parade of talent for the Norge transcription series after the above items went to press. Two of the very few Norge program recordings discovered feature the Berigan band. It is likely that others from the series may be extant in view of the number of shows recorded.

A unique snapshot photo of the Berigan band playing in what appears to be a theater in early 1937. It is difficult to identify the performers with Bunny, but I think I see from L-R: Georgie Auld, unknown, possibly Sid Perlmutter, Gene Kinsey and Clyde Rounds in the saxophone section. The girl vocalist may be Carole MacKay (or McKay), the pianist, Joe Lippman. The drummer is likely Manny Berger.

In mid-February the Berigan band began to play a few one-night dance jobs in New England, and this kept Bunny away from New York for the Saturday Night Swing Club broadcast of February 20. He returned to Manhattan however for the Swing Club show that aired on February 27. This was his last appearance on the Swing Club as a regular.

Shortly thereafter, Bunny learned that his band had been chosen for both the Admiracion Shampoo radio show, and the Norge transcription series. He was scheduled to do his first and possibly second of the Norge shows almost immediately. The first session Bunny recorded for Norge (program #5) was probably done on March 7, as an entry in trombonist Larry Altpeter’s diary indicates that he worked with Berigan on that date “from 12:30 to 2:30.”(3) On this fifteen minute program, Bunny was introduced with a few bars of his theme song. Alice Faye, who by then had already become a film star, was also on the program. (She had started her rise to stardom by singing with Rudy Vallee’s band on The Fleischmann Hour from 1932–1934, so she was definitely an experienced singer.) She belted out three songs, and the Berigan band played two instrumentals: “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “There’s a Small Hotel.” The band performs acceptably at a brisk tempo on “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” though the sometimes busy arrangement was far from distinguished (or swinging) and the drummer, presumably Mannie Berger, sounds rather stiff at times. In this arrangement are several bars of fairly complicated writing for the saxophone section which I’m sure took some time to rehearse. The chart also includes brief solos by a clarinetist, either Frank Langone or Don “Slats” Long, and a tenor saxophonist who sounds very much like young Georgie Auld. (4) Bunny’s open trumpet solo is sweepingly authoritative. Incidentally, Berigan handled the inane patter with the announcer immediately after “Stompin’ at the Savoy” very well.

Arthur Michaud and Bunny. Their business relationship became very successful throughout 1937.

The confining format of these shows allowed very little opportunity for Berigan’s musicians to be presented in anything like a relaxed setting, so it is difficult to judge the merits of the band at this early phase of its development. Nevertheless, they seemed to have done what was required of them quite acceptably. Bunny undoubtedly realized that if he was going to be a successful bandleader, he and his band would have to be versatile enough to fit into a wide variety of entertainment situations, something he himself had been doing for years.

Listening to these programs gives one an insight into what daytime radio programming in the 1930s was like. The advertising techniques used on them are certainly quaint by today’s standards. These shows were obviously directed at housewives (Miss Mary Moderne!) who were at home during the day attending to the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing. Presumably the disks that contained these transcribed shows were sold or leased to radio stations across the country to be programmed as each local station’s broadcast schedule would permit. Indirectly, they were also a small part of the promotional buildup of Bunny Berigan’s name that was now under way.

Of far more importance was the development that the new Berigan band would be featured on a sponsored network radio show. Variety reported, in its March 10, 1937, issue: “Fun in Swingtime, sponsored by Admiracion Shampoo, opens on WOR, April 4 (Sunday), to go over the full Mutual network. There will be a special guest of swing music each week. Tim and Irene, who subbed for Jack Benny on the Jello show last summer, Del Sharbutt, special commentator, and Bunny Berigan and his Orchestra are set for the show. Admiracion is manufactured by the National Oil Company.”(5)

The immediate results of this development was Berigan’s departure from the Saturday Night Swing Club, and the reorganization of his band. With some cashflow now assured, Bunny finally got the green light from Rockwell-O’Keefe and Michaud to seek out better musicians whom he could now afford to pay. Bunny Berigan had finally become a full-time bandleader leading a full-time band.

At this juncture, circumstances conspired to give Bunny a number of opportunities to acquire better musicians for his band. First, after following Bunny’s band into the Meadowbrook and completing its two weeks there, Artie Shaw’s string quartet band broke up for lack of work. This occurred on approximately March 1. Bunny’s band manager, the astute and experienced Mort Davis, who had worked previously with Benny Goodman, made it his business to know about the comings and goings of dance band musicians. He knew of Shaw’s plight and undoubtedly contacted several musicians who had worked with Shaw, and told them that Bunny now had some steady work on radio lined up. Two very important additions to the Berigan band resulted: the veteran drummer George Wettling,(6) and the pianist and arranger Joe Lippman.(7) From the beginning, it was understood that Lippman would be the band’s primary arranger. Second, Bunny was now in a position to benefit from Tommy Dorsey’s temper tantrums. Lead trumpeter Steve Lipkins, who’d had a run-in with TD recently, jumped at the opportunity to join the Berigan band. The veteran saxophonist Clyde Rounds, also disenchanted with TD, left at about the same time to join Berigan. Others who joined in early March were Cliff Natalie (Nat Natoli’s younger brother), trumpet; Frankie D’Annolfo, trombone; Slats Long and Hank Freeman on altos/clarinets. Tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld and vocalist Carol MacKay had probably joined Bunny immediately before the Norge shows were recorded.

Carol MacKay, the first girl singer with the new Berigan band – early 1937.

By March 15, the revamped Berigan band began playing some dance engagements within about a 200 mile radius of New York City to break in.(8) Singer Carol MacKay recalled this transitional period:

“I had a few lessons on classical piano. I was with Ben Pollack and we did a record date (September, 1936) before leaving for the West Coast. I left Pollack later and came back east with Harry James (who joined Benny Goodman in early January 1937) and another trumpeter around the Christmas holidays, joining Bunny in late February or early March 1937. The band was doing mostly one-nighters. Jimmy Van Heusen, the song-writer, who wasn’t yet very well known, was a good friend of Bunny’s. I think they’d known each other back in Wisconsin. Anyway, Jimmy told me, ‘This is the band for you,’ which impressed me, so I joined. Arrangers included Joe Lippman, (and a little later) Abe Osser, Fred Norman and Dick Rose. Soon after I joined we auditioned for that shampoo radio show. ‘The Goona Goo’ was one of Bunny’s favorite numbers and the band played it a lot. I recall Joe Bushkin being on piano for a bit at the Pennsylvania Hotel (in the spring of 1937) while Joe Lippman was busy with arranging. I don’t remember Bunny ever warming up; he’d just come out and play! Arthur Michaud and Mort Davis were both around the band, but Michaud was roundly disliked by almost everybody!  Bunny hardly ever rehearsed the trumpets, but the saxes were always being worked on and he never seemed happy with them. I remember one rehearsal when I left to go shopping as it wasn’t time for my songs, and when I got back a couple of hours later, they still hadn’t gotten to my numbers! Bunny was very definite about what he wanted soundwise. He and Joe Lippman worked closely together on most numbers and got along well. Bunny would make quite a few suggestions about how the brass was to be written for. He would say, ‘This is real good,’ or ‘Keep this in here,’ etc. He loved ballads and folk tunes and he’d say, ‘Well, let’s go get ‘em!’ when the band was going to play a fast tune like ‘King Porter Stomp.’ I remember we did a date, maybe a radio show, for a soda water commercial. Bunny really joked about that! We also attempted a movie short when everyone in the band showed up, everyone except Bunny, that is! It was canceled, of course.”(9) (I am not sure I know what Ms. MacKay was referring to with that last statement. I have found no evidence that the Berigan band ever had any opportunity to make a movie short in early 1937, or indeed ever.)

The music:

Carmen Mastren – 1937.

Liebestraum No. 3 in A-flat major is the last of the three that Franz Liszt wrote and the most popular. It was published in 1850. The word “liebestraum” in German means “dreams of love.”

Like so may memorable melodies that became popular during the swing era, “Liebestraum” was recorded before the swing era by Paul Whiteman. The Whiteman arrangement, which was written by Roy Bargy, was recorded on December 13, 1928. I am certain that Berigan played that arrangement while he was with the Whiteman orchestra from late 1932 until late 1933. Tommy Dorsey may not have played the Bargy arrangement during his tenure with Pops Whiteman, which predated it, but he was undoubtedly aware of the 1928 Whiteman recording. Whiteman cast a large and beneficent musical shadow across the entirety of the swing era.

Even though I have listened to Tommy Dorsey’s recording of “Liebestraum” hundreds of times over the years, the way I listen to a recording to gather information that is useful to people who read these blog posts as I prepare them usually results in me gaining a greater appreciation of what is happening musically. The most obvious features of this performance are the solos: by Tommy Dorsey on solotone-muted trombone, setting forth the melody in the first chorus, and later with a bit of improvisation on open trombone; by Don “Slats” Long, playing in the juicy lower register on his clarinet; by Bud Freeman on tenor saxophone; by Dave Tough on his drums and cymbals; and of course, by Bunny Berigan on trumpet. But what I noticed and really appreciated for the first time in preparing for this post is what a wonderful, colorful, well-paced arrangement Carmen Mastren created within which to present all of those solos to maximum effect. My process of discovery was undoubtedly enhanced by listening to both the familiar issued recording, and then comparing it with the alternate take. (See below.)

Berigan, being sent by Dave Tough.

This classic performance starts with a brief introduction played by muted brass, backed by quiet clarinets, which leads into Tommy’s muted trombone melody exposition. Notice how Mastren uses the bouncy but quietly-played clarinets as a contrasting sonority and countermelody to TD’s sound and super-smooth phrasing in this passage. The transition to the secondary melody starts with the open brass along with a few bursts from Slats Long’s clarinet. Bud Freeman then plays a tasty eight bar jazz solo, followed by Long doing likewise with his clarinet. The backgrounds for these solos are warmly but quietly played open brass “pads.” The open brass appear again, now more forcefully, leading to a rambunctious eight-bar open trombone solo by Dorsey. (We have learned some 85 years after this recording was made that this solo was NOT played by Tommy Dorsey, but by Les Jenkins. See note 9A below.) Then the highlight of the performance: Bunny Berigan’s sixteen-bar jazz trumpet solo. (10)

Bunny starts this solo as he started so many others in his lower middle register, and then moves up briefly, and then down again and up briefly through the first eight bars. Notice how he bounds further upward into his high register as he moves into the second eight bars – and builds toward the climax of the solo. This second half of Berigan’s musical statement, in addition to being a compositional sequel to the first half, is full of passion and jazz excitement. The solo ends with a marvelous and very personal lip trill and high note exclamation point. One of the great storytellers in jazz had done it again.

Attention should also be called to Dave Tough’s inspirational drumming behind Berigan’s solo, highlighted by his use of his famous China cymbal.

After Bunny’s solo, Tough plays a marvelously creative solo (actually two solos, four bars each) employing his drums, whsipering cymbals and a clear-toned, tiny bell-like sound in a way that was antithetical to the explosive pyrotechnics of Benny Goodman’s star drummer, Gene Krupa. Tough aficionados will also appreciate his masterful, colorful drumming throughout this performance, both in driving the ensemble and in backing the various soloists.


Alternate take.

The music: It is always very interesting to listen to alternate takes of recordings that are well-known. Invariably, one learns more about the issued take from the alternate take. In the case of the alternate take of Tommy Dorsey’s “Liebestraum,” (this is take 1; take two is the issued recording), there are many listening insights to be gained. First, the overall recording balance achieved by Victor’s recording engineers on this alternate is superb, slightly better, perhaps, than on the issued recording. Second, a comparison of the solos reveals that Tommy sought and achieved on the issued take an even smoother melody exposition than on this alternate. Third, the jazz solos, with the exception of Slats Long’s outing on clarinet, are very different, especially Berigan’s.

Dave Tough – the thinking person’s drummer.

TD’s melody exposition here has fewer long, held notes in it than on the issued recording. Consequently, his solo on the issued recording may be more smooth, but this solo swings a bit more. On this alternate we are also able to hear the clarinet backing for Tommy’s solo more clearly. Bud Freeman, ever the jazz player, fashions a quite different solo on this take, albeit a slightly less cogent one than on the classic recording. Slats Long, who was in the Dorsey band for only a short time, had set his clarinet solo, and played it on both takes with little variation, undoubtedly so that he would not incur TD’s wrath if he tried something different and didn’t play it perfectly. What is most fascinating during Long’s solo is the remarkable backing he gets from drummer Dave Tough. Tough covers just all about all of his drums, the rims of his snare, and also creates some delightful bell sounds. What, I wonder, was the imaginative Mr. Tough striking (ever so gently) to create those little pings? (Is it the cup at the center/top of one of his cymbals?)

Bunny Berigan and Tommy Dorsey in 1937: their musical collaborations resulted in many swing era classics.

Tommy’s open trombone solo shows him employing his burry tone, which he used when he wanted to create a rambunctious feeling when he played swinging jazz. Although TD was the first person to be hyper-critical of his jazz playing, he need not have been apologetic about this solo. It was very good, and is one of his few recorded paeans to his fellow trombonist Jack Teagarden, whose jazz playing he rightly held in very high regard. (11) (See note 9A below for a better explanation as to why this solo sounded so much like Teagarden. It was played by Les Jenkins – not TD.)

The trumpet solo by Bunny Berigan demonstrates that like Bud Freeman, he was not to be confined in his improvisations. With the exception of the first two bars which Bunny started this solo with, it is entirely different from the one Berigan fans know so well on the issued recording. There is excitement and passion in this solo, and as always, Berigan’s compositional sense is evident. The upward arc of his playing as he moves from the first eight bars to the second indicates that he was inspired to reach the climax of his solo a bit earlier, perhaps, than on the issued recording. Berigan fans will, I’m sure, play this solo repeatedly to savor Bunny’s piquant jazz.

Attention should also be drawn to the rhythmic support Bunny received from Carmen Mastren on guitar, Gene Traxler on bass, who really digs in, and the ever-swinging Dave Tough, who levitates Berigan with his legendary China cymbal. Tough’s drum breaks after Berigan are also different from those on the issued recording.

The recordings presented with this post were digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.

Notes and links:

(1) White materials: February 15–19, 1937.

(2) All citations regarding the Norge transcriptions are in the White materials: February 27, 1937.

(3) White materials: March 7, 1937.

(4) Here is a link to the Norge recording of “Stompin’ at the Savoy” Berigan recorded in early 1937:


Saxophonist Georgie Auld was born John Altwerger on May 19, 1919, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He began playing alto sax as a child in Toronto. He moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York, in 1929, won a scholarship to study with the saxophone virtuoso Rudy Wiedhoeft in 1931, and acquired many characteristics of Wiedhoeft’s playing style during the nine months he studied with him. By the mid-1930s, Auld had switched to the tenor sax, and began gigging as a jazz musician working on occasion at Nick’s in Greenwich Village. It was there that he was discovered by Bunny Berigan. Auld played in 1937–1938 with Berigan; 1939 with Artie Shaw (also leading the remnants of Shaw’s band into 1940); then most notably with Benny Goodman later in 1940 and into 1941. Auld returned as Shaw’s featured tenor sax soloist in August 1941, remaining until early 1942. Thereafter he began to lead bands of various sizes for the next eight years. In 1949 he left music to work as an actor on Broadway in a play called The Rat Race. He returned to jazz working briefly with Count Basie’s small band in 1950. Illness forced him to leave music again, but by late 1951 he was working again in Los Angeles in a variety of settings. Auld returned to New York briefly in the late 1950s, but then moved to Las Vegas. Starting in the 1960s, Auld took various sized groups to Japan and acquired a substantial following there. In 1977, he appeared as an actor in the feature film New York, New York, playing a bandleader. Georgie Auld died in Palm Springs, California, on January 8, 1990.

(5) Cited in White materials: March 6, 1937.

(6) George Godfrey Wettling was born on November 28, 1907 in Topeka, Kansas. By 1921 he was residing in Chicago, and three years later he became a professional drummer. An early and continuing influence on his playing was derived from Warren “Baby” Dodds, who worked in a succession of black bands in Chicago in the 1920s. By 1935, Wettling was a member of a specially formed touring band led by English maestro Jack Hylton for a tour of the United States. He settled in New York in 1936, and played with Artie Shaw’s first (string quartet) band in late 1936–early 1937. He joined Bunny Berigan in early 1937 and remained until December of that year. He then joined Red Norvo for about a year, then spent several years with Paul Whiteman, during which time he frequently made records with jazz artists on the side. He worked with Benny Goodman, Abe Lyman, and Miff Mole during World War II, and in 1943 joined the staff orchestra for ABC radio, where he remained until 1952. Thereafter, he worked and recorded with most of the top Dixie-oriented musicians in New York and on tour for the remainder of his life. He died in Manhattan on June 6, 1968, from lung cancer. George Wettling was an accomplished abstract painter whose work was exhibited many times during the last two decades of his life. He was also a witty and trenchant writer whose articled appeared in Down Beat and Playboy magazines.

(7) Arranger/pianist Joe Lippman was born on April 23, 1915, in Boston, Massachusetts. He got his first big break in late 1934 when arranger George Bassman and saxist Ben Kanter recommended him to Benny Goodman, who was then in need of an arranger for his NBC Let’s Dance radio program series. Lippman then joined Vincent Lopez for several months in 1936, then Artie Shaw, mid-1936 to March 1937. He was with Bunny Berigan from March 1937 to December 1938 as chief arranger, sharing piano duties on occasion with Joe Bushkin. He freelanced as an arranger for the first half of 1939, then joined Jimmy Dorsey’s band as pianist (replacing Freddy Slack) and sometimes arranger until early 1942. After military service, Lippman worked as a freelance arranger, contributing work to notable recordings by Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughn in the early 1950s. After that, he went into television in Hollywood, working often with Dean Martin in that medium. Joe Lippman died on January 21, 2007.

(8) One such break-in date was Monday, March 15, 1937, at the Commodore Ballroom, Lowell, Massachusetts.

(9) White materials: April 1, 1937.

(9A) A few weeks after this post was published, I received a notice from one of a number of people whose opinions I respect in matters the music and history of the swing era, that the jazz jazz trombone solos on the classic Tommy Dorsey recordings of “Liebestraum” were played by Les Jenkins, not TD. I can’t say I was surprised, especially when listening to the solo that is on the alternate take, which is a paean to Jack Teagarden, Les Jenkins’s idol. The source of this “new” information was an article that was published in the promotional newspaper Tommy Dorsey published and circulated in the early months of 1939 called The Bandstand. An excerpt of that article was posted on the Tommy Dorsey Facebook Group by David Sager. Thank you David!! Here is a link to that post.


Tommy Dorsey aficionados should also be aware that the other jazz solos on TD records from the late 1930s that were taken by Les Jenkins were on: “Deed I Do,” “Yearning,” “Beale Street Blues,” and “Stompin’ at the Stadium.”

(10) Berigan did not play in the trumpet section on this recording. That section was led by Andy Ferretti.

(11) In Tommy’s band when these recordings were made was one of Jack Teagarden’s most accomplished acolytes, trombonist Les Jenkins. It is a fact that TD often allowed Jenkins to play jazz solos when the Dorsey band played dance dates, and almost always loved what he heard. Perhaps the Teagarden influence was seeping into TD’s jazz playing at this time indirectly, by way of Les Jenkins.

5 thoughts on ““Liebestraum” (1937) with Tommy Dorsey

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  1. In poring over the daily Berigan schedule of late ’36 through early ’37, we of today might imagine that trumpeter and nascent bandleader Roland Bernard served as the model for the Energizer Bunny! Even given his youth and strength, it seems nothing less than amazing that Bunny could maintain that grueling work schedule for so extended a period, let alone produce music of stunning quality, which has achieved immortality.

    Carol MacKay’s recollections, even with the suspect mention of an unfulfilled film short assignment,, both corroborate and add depth and color to other insider stories of the beginnings of the Berigan band and Bunny’s approach to its stewardship. I think we can safely believe that, over time, things would have gone more smoothly and the venture been much more successful if Bunny had overseen the business/financial side with the same careful attention that he did the music, but we know that not every leader is capable of adhering to the Tommy Dorsey model. In any case, despite being up to his neck in the details of shaping a homogeneous sound for his new outfit, he clearly didn’t phone-in his contemporaneous sideman work, treating it as merely a means of subsidizing his own new enterprise but, rather, devoted his full technical and creative powers to making a meaningful artistic — and swinging! — contribution.

    By the time Bunny came on the Dorsey bandstand to lend his sparkling horn to the proceedings, Tommy’s orchestra had developed an easily identifiable character. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was chief arranger Paul Weston or Axel Stordahl or, in the case of “Liebestraum, the band’s guitarist, Carmen Mastren, who came up the the chart, the band had a recognizable sound as a unit, even before the soloists stepped up in turn for their four, eight or sixteen bars. In “Liebestraum,” Mastren’s writing for the clarinets and use of brass pads illustrates my point. The TD aggregation was/is unmistakable! It’s always a treat to have the opportunity to compare issued and unissued performances. Though in this instance I believe the familiar take is superior in terms of the narrative content of the solos, I find the alternate nearly as good on the same basis and almost more swinging. Teagarden’s influence is indeed so evident in Tommy’s jazz solo, especially on the unissued take; the way he rips that G, the sixth of the V chord, C, on the alternate is patented Teagarden.

    It’s easy to understand why the beloved “Liebestraum,” with its attractive chord changes, would appeal to Bunny, with his keen harmonic sense. Alternate Berigan performances are, for me , more special than those of any other jazz player. To hear something “new” is like stumbling upon a diamond on the beach. One of the neatest tricks of his style was his ability to sound at once nonchalant and the master story teller. On the alternate, he has a basic idea of where he wants to go with the story, but he seems to be reacting to Davy’s swinging support (and maybe the way Gene Traxler digs in!) and winds up sounding more nonchalant than ever in obvious response.

    The Dorsey rhythm section was so different from that of its Victor label rival, the Goodman band. Benny’s Allan Reuss is my favorite guitarist, but we must give credit to the great Carmen Mastren for his strong contribution to the distinctive sound of the TD rhythm in this period. Of course, as is highlighted in the post, Tough vs Goodman’s Krupa is the most obvious difference in the two bands’ rhythm sections. Dave’s quirky but very subtly textured support of the soloists and swinging push during the ensemble passages of “Liebestraum” is virtuosic drumming.

    Carol MacKay’s mention that “The Goona Goo” (of all things!) was a favorite of Bunny’s reminds me that on the Dorsey version of that number as well as on the issued take of “Liebestraum” we hear a pet figure of Bunny’s, which appeared most famously on “Marie.” Sometimes, giving Bunny the opening jazz solo, as on “Marie,” was the most clever tactic. On “Liebestraum,” though, from Bunny’s last record session with the TD band until ’40, letting him bat cleanup (among the horn soloists, anyway) was clearly the way to go. Bunny didn’t leave much more to say on the topic of “dreams of love”!

  2. Hi Michael, enjoyed your piece on Liebestraum. I am practically certain, that Dave Tough’s little ‘pings’ were made on the top of one of his cymbals, as you surmise, possibly a ride cymbal. All the best, Tom

  3. Mike, I have to thank you sincerely for this, because it puts one of my earliest record acquisitions into its true context, and, speaking personally, time and place are just as important for me as the music itself. The ability for us to hear the initial take of Liebestraum is, in itself, gold dust, giving the perfect illustration of how true stylists like Bud and Bunny evolved their solos, and how TD himself “tweaked” between takes, particularly his rollicking 8-bar open horn solo.

    As for Bunny himself, God alone knows how he kept going under that degree of pressure, ricocheting like a human pinball from one engagement to the next. Probably just as well he could simply turn up and play without warming up!

    This is another one of those records which mean a lot to me, because, like Song of India, it was aquired by chance, but with a little more judgement than luck, this time.
    As an impecunious teenager with lots of enthusiasm, but with virtually no musical knowledge (or money to shell out on expensive LPs), I’d taken to trawling the secondhand record shops for 78s. There used to be a run down neighborhood in Brighton called North Laine, which was like a big flea market, full of tatty old shops, “greasy spoon” cafes, with a smell and atmosphere all of its own. It’s still there, but is nowadays like Haight-Ashbury on-sea, full of tourist trap boutiques, with prices to make one’s eyes water. Anyway, in the 70s, there were a couple of record shops where the guys had started putting stuff aside for me as a regular, mostly British dance band stuff, but with the occasional transatlantic peach thrown in. “Here y’are!” Said Mike, one Saturday, passing about a half dozen records across the counter to me, one of which was a magenta label HMV. TD orchestra- good. “Swing series 1937”- better, and a classically- derived title. Still knocked out by Song of India, there was a frisson of excitement- could lightning strike twice? “I’ll take the Lew Stones, Mike- and can I have a listen to this?” And so it proved, from the understated intro, through Tommy’s seamless, singing opening half chorus, the subtle interplay of soloists and sections, like S of I, this piece was building towards something- would it be my star trumpeter, who, I’m pretty sure still had yet to aquire an identity? And when Bunny came in, I couldn’t believe my luck. How many more of these Dorsey gems were out there? Only much later did I find the answer, not so many, but finding two diamonds from out of time so early on, set me on a path. It’s great to retread those steps again, but this time with all the background, so we are able to immerse ourselves in the moment.
    Incidentally, up until now, I always thought that the clarinet solo was by Johnny Mince, but I guess he must have still been with Ray Noble. Davy Tough’s propulsive use of his ride cymbal is much more clearly brought out by the engineers here, compared to S of I, and that first take really is immaculately balanced. Re. The tiny, bell-like sound from Tough, I noticed Buddy Rich occasionally produced something similar, but as a rapid tattoo, which sounds like a tiny electric bell- the alternate take of Blue Skies is an example which springs to mind, heard half way through Frank’s vocal. I always thought it was a miniature cymbal of some kind, but maybe, like Davy, he’s just playing the centre boss.
    Many thanks again, Mike.

  4. The three previous commenters pretty much cover all the bases on this piece. As Elizabeth states, the alternate take and the issued take provide the listener with two different facets of a fine diamond, both beautiful in their own right. All jazz players have their pet cliches to be sure but the difference between a master improvisor and all others is their ability to come up with ideas that create a memorable piece of art on each subsequent take, leaving the listener the unenviable job of choosing the best one.
    Elizabeth maybe gets to the heart of it by recognizing Bunny’s “nonchalant “ feeling on his solos. Great players will be able to muster their mastery of harmony, melody, rhythm, architecture, and theatre along with what they hear in their head to create their own masterpieces. The finished product sounds so natural and nonchalant that the listener says inwardly “Now why didn’t I think of that?” A great solo sounds like it grew there all the time.

    A student of jazz history will probably note that each generation seems to be allotted a few improvisors who are blessed with the right combination of musical gifts to grace the rest of us with some truly astonishing musical art and masterpieces. We are fortunate that Bunny was a prolific artist and that Mike Zirpolo has remastered so many of these pieces to be enjoyed now and for generations to come.

    I think Mark and Tom are correct in surmising that the pings were done on the top rounded area of the cymbal, called the “crown” in percussion parlance. Davey was cooking on all burners that day.

  5. Mike, I’m delighted to have this crucial new information in the update of the post! Like you, I’m not surprised to learn that it was Jenkins and not TD who took the jazz solo on the issued and alternate takes. Both the figures themselves and especially the tone, particularly on the alternate (as you mention), are much more in keeping with Les’ sound elsewhere than with TD’s jazz work. I’m so glad that this critical correction was made, as a result of Mr. Sager’s attentiveness and with the aid of the article snippet (a mere artifact to the casual observer, but a treasure trove for those of us who care), as thus a discussion is opened up on other certain or potential non-TD jazz trombone solos on Dorsey records. None of the other examples from the article are a surprise, either — for me, especially “Deed I Do,” which I had always wondered about. We must imagine that Tommy, who so loved and admired Teagarden’s jazz, was glad to give Les, another aficionado in the band, an opportunity to pay tribute to the master.

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