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The Music Goes 'Round & Around

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There's something uplifting and reassuring about Tommy Dorsey's small ensembles, particularly when the tempo is up and the horns get a chance to turn on the heat. On The Music Goes Round and Around, vocalist Edythe Wright sounds relatively relaxed and almost hip at times, even if the hipness occasionally comes across as contrived. During "The Music Goes 'Round and Around" she tells clarinetist Sid Stoneman to "stick it," proving that the girl had spunk. And her version of "At the Codfish Ball" is so much tougher than Shirley Temple's, thanks to Bud Freeman, who gets introduced by name at the start of the record. To be sure, there are a few droopy numbers, and it is worrisome to note how some of the weakest material ranked high on the hit parade. But most of this stuff is very entertaining and worthwhile, particularly the instrumentals. It's worth having the whole package just for Dave Tough's drumming on "Twilight in Turkey," Johnny Mince's smokin' clarinet on "Chinatown," the driving ensemble unity achieved during "The Sheik of Araby," and two dynamite Dixieland revival and blues-inspired sessions from 1950. Quite a few of the vocal tracks are spruced up admirably by the classy presence of the aforementioned Bud Freeman, whose tenor sax brings warmth and character to any ensemble. In these small group settings, Dorsey himself is able to shine and percolate with immaculate ease, unencumbered by big-band charts. There is one surprise vocal by Sy Oliver ("There's Good Blues Tonight") and a passable group vocal on a Slim Gaillard cover ("Vol Vist Du Gaily Star"). Note the existence of a 1991 Dorsey & the Clambake Seven reissue on Bluebird, bearing exactly the same title but only some of the same tunes; this Living Era package is actually more substantial as it includes more instrumental material. What you really need is a Clambake Seven reissue completely devoid of anything fluffy, stupid, vapid, or tepid. The Music Goes Round and Around comes close. May you all live long enough to see the very best of this music properly presented.

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