Its all in the name, right? So just what is Tommy James Music all about????
It was the spring of 1997 at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. Tom Manuel was fronting his Big Band, The Black Tie Affair Orchestra, for a corporate function. As the event began and Tom and the band were introduced, his last name was mispronouced-- again! Jokingly, he said to tenor saxophonist, Dayna Stephens, “This is the same room JFK announced his bid for congress. I wonder if they screwed up his name when they introduced him?!” Dayna responded, “Well, first, you’re not JFK! Second, do you have a middle name?” And, well... the rest is history!
The Black Tie Affair Orchestra, affectionately known as BTAO by their fans, has had a long and fruitful career. Founded with the philosophy of keeping true to the tradition of authentic big band jazz, BTAO has had amongst its ranks some of the greatest figures in jazz: Teddy Charles, Percy Brice, Chuck Genduso, Pete Chivily, Lloyd Trotman, Al Galadoro, Joe Wilder, Sonny Dallas, Chasey Dean, Earl Williams, and others. Recent collaborations alone have included the likes of Warren Vache, John Mosca, Vinny Falcone, Houston Pearson, Bob Anderson, Laurel Masse (from Manhattan Transfer), Todd Coolman, Dave Pietro, James Commack and The Rat Pack Is Back! direct from Las Vegas. BTAO has shared the stage with Bucky Pizzarelli, and even some contemporaries like Edwin McCain.
BTAO has several CD albums to their credit including Flying Home (Millenium Records), Kansas City Suite, Artistry In Kenton, and Sinatra! (Trotman Records). BTAO also has several radio and television appearances to their credit including The Today Show, and they have been reviewed and featured several times in major press publications from Newsday to the New York Times.
Tommy James Music was launched in the spring of 2013 as a catch-all for some other amazing ensembles and projects which have developed as a byproduct of BTAO. This includes The Blue Devils, a nonet jazz ensemble performing straight ahead jazz of the 1950s and 1960s.
A major highlight of Tommy James Music is its vast and unique music library. Boasting over 10,000 arrangements, the collection spans nearly 100 years of jazz history: hot jazz of 1920s Harlem including the library of The Original Dixieland Five, classic sounds of the big bands during World War II including the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, bebop of the 1950s including original manuscripts by Bob Brookmeyer, Gill Evans, Teddy Charles, Mal Waldron, Jimmy Giuffre, Pepper Adams, Hal Overton and Duke Pearson, progressive sounds of the 1960s, the epitemy of society music from the entire Lester Lanin library, authentic Latin from the original Roseland Ballroom book and the Raymond Petty book, and contemporary commissions by the greatest arrangers and composers on the jazz scene today such as Rich DeRosa and others.
Tommy James Music is also very proud to have as part of their library some very special music including vocal arrangements recorded by Arthur Prysock (courtesy of Mrs. Arthur Prysock), Frank Sinatra (courtesy of Ms. Rosemary Acera-Riddle), Manny Albam (courtesy of Miss. Katie Albam-Crane), and others.
Most importantly, Tommy James Music embodies the high standards the music of this American born art form demands, the tradition set forth by our predecessors, and the passion, energy and joy which only swing music could embody. It has been, is, and continues to be an honor to stand in front of this wonderful musical organization.
-- Tommy James