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The Essential Frank Sinatra With the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

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Album Review

At the beginning of his career, Frank Sinatra already possessed a large number of the qualities that would make him one of the music powerhouses of the century. His elegance, his warmth, his relaxed yet controlled performing persona, his gift of conveying innumerable subtleties even while singing a song straight — all of these were apparent in the early '40s, before he began appearing under a solo billing. The Essential Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra doesn't include his first recording, which came in July 1939 with Harry James, but it does feature two full discs of his early material, previously available on CD via a parade of spotty single-disc collections or the mammoth RCA title The Song Is You, a five-disc box set for completists only. Some critics think that Tommy Dorsey is responsible for Sinatra's early vocal style — Dorsey's lyrical, flowing trombone indeed had much in common with Sinatra's singing — but a far more plausible explanation is that the bandleader appreciated a similar approach to music-making. (After all, Sinatra's early style was nearly intact even before joining Dorsey.) The rewards of their collaboration are evident on this compilation, which include a monster hit from 1940 in "I'll Never Smile Again" as well as many more Hit Parade entries from 1940-1942: "Our Love," "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me," "Stardust," "Oh! Look at Me Now," and "Dolores." Sinatra fans who already have extensive representation of his Capitol, Reprise, and Columbia periods will want to add this to their collection.

Customer Reviews

Best summary of Dorsey years

Frank was with Tommy Dorsey only from 1940-42, and if you don't want to spring for the box set "The Song Is You" which has every master take he did with Dorsey, this is the best sampler, with 44 songs from the box which will satisfy all but the completist.

This is early Frank, before he had his swagger. He sings the songs straight up, without bending the lyric. Dorsey and his trombone are omnipresent, as well as Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers. I would rank this music as more interesting than his Columbia work with Axel Stordahl in the 1940s, although that ballad-heavy body of work has its own charms too.


Born: December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Frank Sinatra was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rivals for the title being Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends. He came to the fore during the swing era of the 1930s and '40s, helped to define the "sing era" of the '40s and '50s, and continued to attract listeners during...
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