Although Tommy Dorsey is remembered more for his popular big-band recordings of the 1940s, his jazz dates of the 1930s are far more interesting. This compilation, assembled by Jazz Legends, comes mainly from his long association with RCA Victor, except for the opening track, "Three Moods." This song, first waxed for Brunswick, marked Dorsey's debut as a leader playing trombone (though he recorded earlier under his name while playing trumpet). "Weary Blues" is transformed from its typical New Orleans setting into a hot swing vehicle. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" became Dorsey's theme song with good reason; this mellow ballad proved to be a remarkable showcase for his warm trombone. Paul Weston contributed a number of arrangements to Dorsey during the 1930s, including a swinging take of the Dixieland standard "Royal Garden Blues," "At the Codfish Ball" (featuring tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman), and a romping "Maple Leaf Rag." Bunny Berigan, a doomed trumpeter in the tragic mold of Bix Beiderbecke, appears in the easygoing swinger "Marie," which also has both fine muted and open horn solos by the leader. The excellent liner notes by Scott Yanow are a plus, though the lack of track-by-track composer credits is disappointing. But this remains an excellent survey of Tommy Dorsey's early years as a bandleader.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden