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The Seventeen Number Ones

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Album Review

Contrary to what one might think from the coverage he gets, Tommy Dorsey enjoyed more than a dozen chart-topping hits before Frank Sinatra ever went to work for him. This mid-priced 1990 vintage CD, covering Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra's biggest hits from 1935 through 1942, remains the best overview of Dorsey's work in his prime years that one can buy, at least short of going for the Collector's Choice three-CD V-Disc Recordings set, which is a lot less organized and a lot more expensive. The Dorsey orchestra was a sweet band, no question, but they had first-rate players who were as precise and skilled as any in the business, and even on their pop sides you can hear a virtuoso ensemble — and some of these sides, including "Marie" and "The Big Apple," really swing; even the real pop numbers, like "Alone" (a cover of the big featured Brown/Freed love ballad from the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera), and dance numbers, like "The Dipsy Doodle," are worth the price of admission for '30s pop and novelty music at its best. There are just four sides featuring Sinatra, but the other vocalists are more than competent and Edythe Wright, in particular, has a lot to offer. There's no personnel information other than the singers, but that's easy enough to get hold of for anyone who really cares, and the sound is more than decent for a 1990 release, marred only by some surface noise in the sources and a bit more compression than would be ideal.

Customer Reviews

Good collection, lots of noise

A nice assortment of Dorsey tunes, marred only by a lot of 78rpm surface noise on some cuts. If that's going to bother you, you might want to pass.

Fine collection

BMG did two similar releases in 1990. The other contains remastered tracks from the '90s, and they're not very satisfying. Compare the two versions of 'Marie' and you'll find that the version here is cleaner and more vibrant than the softer, slightly submerged version remastered in '90. This collections seems to be the best. (I like the occasional surface noise!)


Born: November 19, 1905 in Shenandoah, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Though he might have been ranked second at any given moment to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, or Harry James, Tommy Dorsey was overall the most popular bandleader of the swing era that lasted from 1935 to 1945. His remarkably melodic trombone playing was the signature sound of his orchestra, but he successfully straddled the hot and sweet styles of swing with a mix of ballads and novelty songs. He provided showcases to vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Jo Stafford, and he employed...
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