There's such a paucity of legitimate Jimmy Dorsey material out there on CD that this double-disc, 40-song collection of live broadcasts and airchecks dating between 1936 and 1950 is, in effect, a serious contender for the finest best-of on the renowned bandleader and saxman. The selection of tracks showcases both the jazz and pop sides of Dorsey's band, and the evolving sound of that band across almost 15 years, from their beginnings as a cutting-edge swing outfit in 1936 to their latter-day turn toward nostalgia and a traditional Dixieland sound. The quality is astonishingly consistent given the varied venues and sources, and for those who just want a great sounding collection of Dorsey material to augment the legitimate issues that are out there, or one that can stand on its own, they need look no further than this set. Although Ray McKinley
, Kitty Kallen
, and Claire Hogan
are included on some of the vocal cuts, it's Bob Eberly
and Helen O'Connell
who are the best represented singers on the pop numbers, which include "All or Nothing at All," "Blueberry Hill," "Imagination," "Green Eyes," "Do It Again," "The Jumping Jive," "Someday Sweetheart," and "I'm Stepping out with a Memory Tonight." There's no real information about the featured soloists, or band lineups, but one can cross-reference membership lists with the dates for each track and make out Charlie Teagarden
and Bobby Byrne
, among others. And it's amazing to hear even the 1949/1950 version of the Jimmy Dorsey band swing like there was no tomorrow (and there wasn't much of one, commercially speaking, for swing music, but they didn't care). An authorized studio release of the band's recordings would be hard put to outdo the audio quality of this release, which apparently comes courtesy of the West Surrey Big Bands Society in England. It's worth the list price and then some, and the quality of the music is such that jazz listeners will probably like the sweet numbers, and pop fans the swing numbers, and so has a good chance of pleasing anybody who might care to buy it.