Jimmy Dorsey made some of his finest recordings while associated with the Decca label from 1936 to 1943. Twenty of those tracks are assembled on Contrasts, a compilation of material that shows the orchestra at its jazz best. The elder Dorsey's outfit was more known as a pop dance band, but behind its commercial side it was one of the most talented groups of its day.
The compilation opens with the extremely bouncy ''Parade of the Milk Bottle Caps,'' an original Dorsey Brothers tune that's a lot of fun to listen to. Jimmy's orchestra was never one to put work before fun, and they often went out of their way to combine both, a trait also apparent on the tune ''John Silver.'' The band really knew how to swing. Numbers like the ''King Porter Stomp,'' ''Stompin' at the Savoy,'' ''Don't Be That Way,'' ''Dusk in Upper Sandusky,'' and ''Sorghum Switch'' are some of the very best of their era, and other songs like ''Turn Left,'' its companion piece ''Turn Right,'' ''Dolemite,'' and the title track (which was also Jimmy Dorsey's theme) are also excellent jazz numbers, quite modern for their time.
The orchestra could also slow down when necessary, like on the silky instrumental ''In a Sentimental Mood,'' featuring the trombone of Bobby Byrne, who was considered Dorsey's outstanding instrumentalist. Also included is perhaps the group's biggest hit, ''Tangerine,'' one of the famous Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly duets, featured in the movie The Fleet's In. Two June Richmond tunes are also part of this excellent CD, as well as one of Helen O'Connell's finest recordings, ''All of Me.'' Recommended.