Victor 26525 – Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra – 1940

December 12 marks the monumental occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth.  For such an occasion, I’d love to post Sinatra’s first record with Harry James’ orchestra.  Unfortunately, I don’t own a copy, so here’s the earliest Sinatra record I do have, this classic swing with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in 1940.

Francis Albert Sinatra was born December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, the only son of Italian immigrants.  Sinatra began singing as a child, and idolized Bing Crosby.  In 1935, he joined a local vocal trio called the 3 Flashes, which became known as the Hoboken Four after Sinatra joined.  After a successful performance on Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour, they embarked on a tour of the United States and Canada.  Following that engagement, Sinatra found work as a singing waiter in a New Jersey roadhouse, and he began to perform on WNEW in New York.  In 1939, Sinatra began performing with Harry James’ orchestra, and made his first commercial recordings for Brunswick that year.  Before long, he left James band to replace Jack Leonard as vocalist for Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra.  After great success with Dorsey, by 1942 Sinatra wanted to go solo, and he parted ways unceremoniously with the bandleader.  Rumor has it that Sinatra’s mobster godfather Willie Moretti forced Dorsey to release Sinatra from his binding contract at gunpoint.  After going his way, Sinatra signed with Columbia records while the musicians’ strike and subsequent recording ban was in effect, and his first solo recordings were quite successful.  The rest, as they say, is history, with Sinatra going on to huge success, the Rat Pack days, all with a few slumps in between, for the next five decades or so, until his death in 1998.

Victor 26525 was recorded on February 26, 1940 in New York City, not long after Sinatra joined Dorsey’s orchestra.  The Dorsey orchestra is in fine form , and on these earlier recordings, Sinatra sings a bit higher than he did in his greatest fame, and to my ear, honestly resembles a better Ray Eberle.  Nonetheless, as always, he had a very pleasant voice. In the band are Zeke Zarchy, Ray Linn, and Jimmy Blake on trumpets, Ward Silloway and Lowell Martin on trombones, Johnny Mince on clarinet and alto sax, Les Robinson and Fred Stulce on alto sax, Paul Mason and Babe Russin, on tenor sax, Bob Kitsis on piano, Benny Heller on guitar, Gene Traxler on string bass, and the great Buddy Rich on drums.

First up, Old Blue Eyes croons the Eddie DeLange and Jimmy Van Heusen tune, “Shake Down the Stars”.

Shake Down the Stars, recorded

Shake Down the Stars, recorded February 26, 1940 by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (Vocal refrain by Frank Sinatra).

On the back, Sinatra sings and swings “Moments in the Moonlight”.

Moments in the Moonlight, recorded

Moments in the Moonlight, recorded February 26, 1940 by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (Vocal refrain by Frank Sinatra).

Updated on August 19, 2016.

Perfect 6-05-09 – Joe Haymes and his Orchestra – 1936

With all the controversy we have surrounding Columbus Day, who knows, they might decide to abolish it after this year.  With that in mind, I can’t think of a better time to share this fine swing record, and you’ll see why.  Though this was recorded near the beginning of the swing era, recordings like this represent swing’s finest, or at least jazziest period, in my opinion.

Joe Haymes got his start in the music industry as arranger for Ted Weems’ orchestra before breaking out with his own band in 1930.  Eventually developing a reputation for doing so, Haymes sold off his first band to movie star and musician Charles “Buddy” Rogers in 1933.  He put together another band the next year which was taken over by Tommy Dorsey after the famous Dorsey Brothers split.  Afterwards, he organized yet another band to record with the American Record Corporation, which is heard on this record.

Perfect 6-05-09 was recorded on March 11, 1936 in New York and features the talent of Cliff Weston, Zeke Zarchy, and Gordon Griffin on trumpets, Mike Michaels and Frank Llewellyn on trombone, Leo White on clarinet, Edgar Sarason on alto sax, Freddy Fallensby on tenor sax, Ben Herrod on baritone sax, Bill Miller on piano, Brick Fleagle on guitar, Jack Fay on string bass, and Charlie Bush on drums.

First, Haymes’ orchestra plays Leon “Chu” Berry and Andy Razaf’s composition, Christopher Columbus (A Rhythm Cocktail).  You may recognize this tune from Benny Goodman’s famous performance of “Sing, Sing, Sing”, which featured the theme along with Louis Prima’s famous composition.

Christopher Columbus (A Rhythm Cocktail), recorded March 11, 1936 by Joe Haymes and his Orchestra.

Christopher Columbus (A Rhythm Cocktail), recorded March 11, 1936 by Joe Haymes and his Orchestra.

On the flip, they play Stuff Smith’s “I’se a Muggin'”, with a vocal chorus by trumpeter Cliff Weston.  I can’t figure out what the heck is going on in these lyrics.

I'se a Muggin', recorded March 11, 1936 by Joe Haymes and his Orchestra.

I’se a Muggin’, recorded March 11, 1936 by Joe Haymes and his Orchestra.