Learn to Croon
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Frank Sinatra had yet to escape the artistic shadow of Bing Crosby when he sang Crosby's self-mocking "Learn to Croon" as part of a 1940 Dorsey-band broadcast medley. (As for Our Gang's Alfalfa, who also essayed the tune, he never did escape.) Learn to Croon collects more Dorsey-Sinatra performances from the trove that produced its companion volume, It's All So New! Unburdened by that CD's load of amateur-song-contest submissions, Croon focuses instead on Sinatra-Dorsey-Jo Stafford "Memory Medleys" and some hot ensemble band work. A sweet, swinging, amusing look back at the days of Sinatra's very early stardom. --Rickey Wright
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Top customer reviews
"Sinatra was the first singer to thoroughly mine what eventually became thought of as The Great American Songbook: to look at the vintage offerings of Lorenz Hart, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin (all of whom died in the years of Sinatra's ascent) and come to the conclusion that pop music didn't have to be ephemeral: that there was value here, that the best songs were something worth preserving. Perhaps, Sinatra taught by way of example, we should not merely dispose of good songs when their 15 minutes of fame on the Billboard charts was over, instead we should save them for future generations." ~ Will Friedwald ~
Will Friedwald, Grammy-nominated-author, perfectly wrote the Liner Notes for this album. He was absolutely right about his assessment of Frank Sinatra's important role in the evolution of The Great American Songbook. Every song, even the most obscure ones, that Sinatra sang and recorded turned into a gem. There was something magical about his charismatic voice and his style of interpreting a song. Of course he had the good fortune of collaborating with the very best arrangers and the finest musicians of his time that made all of his recordings a musical treasure chest.
"Learn To Croon" is a collection of rare, unreleased performances of young Frank Sinatra with The Pied Pipers and Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra in front of a live audience--all in one take, with no overdubs. The material includes medleys called "The Tommy Dorsey Memory Medley" (tracks 3, 5, 7, 11, 12, 14). A medley consists of three ballads that usually starts with Sinatra; the second tune highlights Dorsey's trombone; and the third song was given to a lady singer--either Jo Stafford or Connie Haines. One example is track five: "The Very Thought Of You" (Sinatra), "Stormy Weather" (Dorsey), and "Let's Fall In Love" (Stafford). Among the highlights are all of the six Medleys, "East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)" and "Blue Moon."
This disc takes the listeners to a musical journey back in time to the radio broadcast days of Sinatra and Dorsey and His Orchestra between 1940 and 1942. Prior to the release of this CD in 1999, these performances have never been heard for 60 years unless you were listening to the radio broadcast back then. With 16 exclusive recordings covering 28 songs of which some are totally obscure (at least to my ears until this disc came along), this CD is truly a collector's item. It also features The Pied Pipers with Jo Stafford, Connie Haines, great Big Band musicians, and Sinatra's earliest arrangers namely Axel Stordahl, Sy Oliver, Paul Weston, Dean Kincaide, Bill Finegan and David Rose. The booklet shows some nice black-and-white photos courtesy of BMG Archives and Chuck Granata, an expert when it comes to all-things-Sinatra.
If you are a dedicated fan of the music of Sinatra and Dorsey and enjoy the Big Band sound, you will find this an irresistible addition to your collection. It's for keeps.
As one reviewer has already pointed out (while missing the point), this is music from a big band whose fine singer went on to become a legend. But, at the time, it was the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Frank Sinatra; it was only decades later than people began calling it Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey.
That said, this is a fine release. Dorsey swang, though the Sinatra of the 1950s probably would have looked down his nose at some of the whitebread-honking solos on these tracks. Pre-war swing and cold-war swing are different animals.
Sinatra does his idol-and-nemesis El Bingo one better on "Learn To Croon" and plays his part well, but it's still hard to understand how the skinny Brooklyn crooner became the Chairman Of The Board and The Voice in later incarnations.