The Dorsey Brothers

The Essential Dorsey Brothers: 1928-1935

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It's astonishing, given the burgeoning interest in swing music, that it took until late 1999 for anyone to assemble an anthology of work by the original Dorsey Brothers band. Until then, they were represented solely by 16 of their Brunswick studio sides on Columbia's Best of the Big Bands, which predated their days as an actual performing band. The first seven cuts here come from the OKeh and Brunswick sides, and only two of them, the Brunswick tracks ("Mood Hollywood" and "Old Man Harlem," appear on Columbia's CD -- the rest are earlier OKeh recordings from 1928-29. The other 17 come from the group's stay on Decca, which is generally considered their best period -- although here again, only a tiny handful of the ten songs from MCA's long out-of-print Decca Sessions LP are present on this CD. The Columbia-owned sides are good choices -- the Bunny Berigan solo on "She's Funny That Way" and "Mood Hollywood," Bing Crosby's exquisite vocal performance on "My Kinda Love," and Larry Binyon's extended tenor sax solo (and Jimmy Dorsey's clarinet) on "Old Man Harlem." The real value to this set lies in what follows -- 18 Decca Records sides that are otherwise unavailable on CD, starting with the band's 1934-vintage rendition (which was not their first) of Tommy's future signature tune, "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," sung by Bob Crosby. One Decca side from the old LP that is present here is "Honeysuckle Rose," a swinging seven-minute epic (originally two sides of a 78) in Glenn Miller's arrangement, with its crisply delineated ensembles and brilliant solos by saxman Skeets Herfurt, Jimmy Dorsey, et al. The remastering job on this disc is so clean that Miller's arrangement springs to life as never before, and the CD even brings out details in drummer Ray McKinley's playing. Another highlight among the two dozen tracks here is the Dorseys' recording of "Lullaby of Broadway," which was the first popular version of that Warren and Dubin movie song. Bing Crosby, Bill Dalton, Bob Crosby, Ray McKinley, Kay Weber, Smith Ballew, Scrappy Lambert, and Bob Eberly are among the featured vocalists. Someday, somebody will wise up and put out a comprehensive double- or triple-CD set of the complete Dorsey Brothers band recordings of this period, but until then this disc will please lots of listeners.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 3:05
3 3:08
4 3:28
5 3:06
6 2:55
7 2:45
8 2:35
9 6:46
10 3:04
11 3:09
12 2:58
13 2:44
14 2:29
15 3:10
16 2:59
17 3:17
18 2:39
19
2:51
20 3:08
21 2:42
22 2:58
23 3:08
24 3:01
blue highlight denotes track pick