After Tommy Dorsey passed away in November 1956, trombonist Warren Covington assumed leadership of the Dorsey band, and continued making records for Decca on the LP format. Dorsey's final releases were the long-playing Decca albums In a Sentimental Mood and a sampling of musical comedy hits by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. Tea for Two Cha Chas, which was Covington's first essay at the helm of the Dorsey group, outsold the earlier albums and achieved enormous popularity as the best-selling Dorsey LP of them all. While this may seem at first like a suspiciously kitschy attempt to cash in on the Caribbean dance trend instigated by Xavier Cugat, Desi Arnaz, and Edmundo Ros, it is clear why the record-buying public responded so well, as the easygoing arrangements and a playlist peppered with familiar airs like "Dinah" and "Dardanella" made it ideal background music for patio barbecues and cocktail parties across the land. Even if the rather stilted vocals on "I Want to Be Happy Cha Cha" sound slightly demented, "Tea for Two Cha Chas" is a fabulous period piece which should be championed as essential equipment for any retro-cocktail gathering. Sepia's zesty reissue of this important, campy cultural artifact adds another dozen tracks from Covington's 1960 follow-up LP, More Tea for Two Cha Chas, which is distinguished by the inclusion of "An Occasional Man," immortalized one year later by sultry Julie London on her Liberty album "Whatever Julie Wants." Covington's concession to current developments in pop culture is evidenced by the addition of a twangy electric guitar on "Tea for Two Cha Cha No. 2."
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