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The Ultimate Collection (,Re-mastered)

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Album Review

Typical of the compilations assembled by British budget reissue label Prism Leisure, this album of tracks featuring Jimmy Durante offers no information about the recordings, just a brief, generic biography of the artist. Although Durante was primarily known as a comedian in movies, musicals, and nightclubs, he also made occasional recordings, particularly in the 1940s when he cut versions of songs from his pictures for Decca Records. He also made many appearances on radio, and there are resulting airchecks. This material comes from those two sources. The lead-off version of Durante's signature song, "Inka Dinka Doo," for example, is a 1944 remake that appeared on the B-side of "Umbriago," a song he sang in his film Music for Millions. But the version of "Umbriago" heard here comes from a radio show, as do many of the tracks here that feature guests such as Bing Crosby (a lengthy medley beginning with Crosby's hit "I Surrender Dear," among other selections), Al Jolson ("A Real Piano Player"), and Judy Garland ("Groaner, Canary and Nose"). Of course, Durante doesn't really need any help to be hilarious. His irrepressible personality comes through clearly, even without the mugging that must have accompanied these performances. In fact, one notices even more Durante's remarkable timing and the way he builds the bits. His musical knowledge allows him to negotiate everything from swing to Latin numbers. But he overwhelms any backup. This is more "the random compilation" than The Ultimate Collection, but it is no less entertaining for that.


Born: 10 February 1893 in New York, NY

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

If any performer can truly be said to have carved out his own comedic turf, made a huge success out of it lasting over several decades, while completely owning that piece of turf lock, stock, and barrel, then that performer would have to be Jimmy Durante. There never has been -- nor is there likely ever to be -- a stylistic school of Durante; the man and his character are of one piece and ingrained in the national consciousness to the extreme. Anyone foolish enough to start appropriating any part...
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The Ultimate Collection (,Re-mastered), Jimmy Durante
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