In Philadelphia, one of the leading Frank Sinatra experts is a veteran DJ named Sid Mark, who hosts a local weekend radio show that plays Sinatra's recordings exclusively. When Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, the Philly media rang Mark's phone off the hook and asked him to comment on Sinatra's legacy -- and one of his most memorable comments was that the 20th century had officially ended with Sinatra's passing. Mark's point was that Sinatra, more than anyone, defined traditional jazz-influenced pop singing in the 20th century, and he would probably agree that Voice of the Century is an appropriate title for a collection of early Sinatra -- very early. When fans speak of early Sinatra, they often mean his Columbia period (which started in 1943). But there's early Sinatra and very early Sinatra -- very early as in the singer's pre-Columbia work with trombonist Tommy Dorsey. Spanning 1940-1942, this superb CD takes listeners back to a time when Sinatra had yet to record for Columbia and was still a featured vocalist for Dorsey's big band. A few of the tracks find Sinatra joining forces with Axel Stordahl & His Orchestra, including "The Song Is You" and "Night and Day." But most of the time, Ol' Blue Eyes is in Dorsey's employ -- and on several selections, Dorsey unites Sinatra with the distinctive vocal harmonies of the Pied Pipers (including pop goddess Jo Stafford). The Sinatra heard on sublime early-'40s performances of "I'll Be Seeing You" "Stardust," "Say It," and "Everything Happens to Me" isn't the strutting, swaggering Sinatra of the '50s, '60s, and '70s; in the early '40s, he was a boyish crooner with a strong Bing Crosby influence. Voice of the Century is easily recommended to anyone who is seeking a concise introduction to Sinatra's pre-Columbia period.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson