Sy Oliver

Picture of Sy Oliver

Sy Oliver led a very good orchestra of his own but is most known for his work with the bands of Jimmie Lunceford and Tommy Dorsey.  He was a very skilled trumpeter, arranger and composer, as well as a decent singer.

Oliver got his start with the famed "territory band", Zack Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels, at the age of 17.  He quickly made a name for himself with his trumpet but also gain a lot of arranging experience with them. 

In 1933, Oliver joined Jimmie Lunceford's band and recorded with them for over six years.  His arrangements for Lunceford were top shelf and really helped that band become such an influence on the era.  

In 1939, Tommy Dorsey lured Oliver away from Lunceford by offering him a very nice salary at the time.  Oliver's influence helped lead the transition of Dorsey's band from a Dixieland flavor to a more popular swinging sound. His arrangements of "On the Sunny Side of the Street",   "Yes, Indeed!", "Opus One" and "Well, Git It" are great examples of what Oliver added to Dorsey's rise in popularity in the 1940's.

Listen to: Yes Indeed! by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra 
featuring Sy Oliver and Jo Stafford on vocals from 1941.

Sy Oliver stayed with Dorsey for about seven years and then moved on to work as a freelance arranger and eventually led his own band full time.

You can hear the music of Sy Oliver right here on Swing City Radio.

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