Once upon a time in America, there was the Great Depression and a vast World War, and a soundtrack that shimmered with hot brass and moonlight and romance.
At the heart of the swing era was trombonist and big band leader Tommy Dorsey. He was the driven kid from Pennsylvania coal country who fought his way up to fame, fortune and one of the most celebrated jazz careers of his time.
And it was some time: a threadbare nation turning on the radio, suiting up for war, coming home victorious — and dancing all the while. Tommy Dorsey could dish it hot or sweet, "Boogie Woogie" or "I'll Never Smile Again." And the country danced.
Hear a conversation about Tommy Dorsey's music, America and livin' in a great big way.
Peter Levinson, author of the new biography "Tommy Dorsey: Livin' in a Great Big Way-A Biography.";
Buddy DeFranco, played clarinet in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in the 1940s.;
Ann Clark Terry, sang with her three sisters under the name The Sentimentalists with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra 1943-1946.
This program aired on November 4, 2005.