Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey

Learn to Croon

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This 16-track companion to It's All So New is less interesting but just as entertaining, focusing on Sinatra and Dorsey's live broadcast covers of pop standards of the period. As annotator Will Friedwald points out, Dorsey and Sinatra were unusual (though not unique) as top-flight, cutting-edge entertainers who made a habit of reaching back to the songs of the past. Apart from filling in his repertory and liberating him from over-dependence on the sometimes less-than-stellar wares being hawked by publishers, Dorsey always saw this as an opportunity to surprise audiences and show off his band's virtuosity, and it gave Sinatra a chance to cover songs he was too young to have sung professionally when they were new. The next-to-last track here, Irving Berlin's "Marie," was a number that Sinatra performed with Dorsey but otherwise never recorded, because the version with his predecessor, Jack Leonard, was still selling. Add to that numbers like "Learn to Croon," "I'm in the Mood for Love," "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)," "How Deep Is the Ocean," and "Blue Moon," some in medley form and others free-standing, and this disc is clearly taking the listener into new realms of Sinatra's and Dorsey's histories. Already at the early dates here, Sinatra is putting his own imprint on the material, with the voice gently embracing a lyric ("I've Got My Eyes on You" and "The Very Thought of You" being the best examples) and transforming it into his own. Jo Stafford, then a member of the Pied Pipers, also gets spotlighted on "How Come You Do Me" and "Let's Fall in Love." As in the case of It's All So New, the sound quality is amazing, and the band swings like nobody's business. Tommy Dorsey's exquisite trombone is showcased several times, including "Stormy Weather," "Learn to Croon," and "Believing," and on the hotter side there's Buddy Rich sitting in on drums on "Ida." The interaction between Sinatra, the Pied Pipers, the reeds, and the brass on "Blue Moon" makes this track worth the price of the disc, with one of the hippest (almost rocking) arrangements in the Dorsey repertory.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:09
2 3:42
3 3:07
4 2:59
5 4:54
6 3:22
7 4:26
8 5:04
10 3:19
11 4:46
12 3:15
13 3:14
14 5:26
15 4:05
16 3:09
blue highlight denotes track pick