James Jimmy Dorsey the older of the two Dorsey brothers was a child prodigy who began his musical career at the age seven playing the slide trumpet and cornet with his father's brass band at local parties. His father was a working class man who wanted a better life for his children and made them study music, diligently. By the time he was 17, Jimmy was playing with the Jean Goldkette band with Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer.
During the 1920's the Goldkette Orchestra had broken up, and Jimmy, along with Bix and Trumbauer joined Paul Whiteman's group. Jimmy left Whiteman's group and freelanced around playing with Red Nichols. In 1933 Jimmy and younger brother Tommy formed their famous Dorsey Brothers Orchestra which included drummer Ray McKinley, trombonist Glenn Miller and singer Bob Crosby.
By 1935, continued feuding between the two brothers led to a break-up of the band. In 1938 Jimmy participated in some of the infamous Friday afternoon jam sessions at the Park Lane Hotel organized by Eddie Condon which included Pee Wee Russell, Sidney Bechet, Bobby Hackett, Willie The Lion Smith, Bud Freeman, Hot Lips Page, Bunny Berigan and Red Allen.
Jimmy began a new band which was a commercial success featuring popular singers Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly. In 1953, a few years after the release of the motion picture The Fabulous Dorseys, Jimmy and Tommy reunited and continued playing together until Tommy's death in 1956