The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, led by trumpeter and singer David Pruyn, drew the Charlotte County Jazz Society's largest audience of the 2021-22 season for its hard-swinging concert on Monday, March 14. For the audience, and the players, it was a journey back in musical time to the big band era of the 1930s, '40s and early '50s. Back to when the big-band sound dominated America's popular music– and alto saxophonist Dorsey was known as “The Jukebox King.”
|Eddie Metz Jr., Pruyn, Greg Diaz|
Over two hours, they shared some 20 standards from Jimmy Dorsey big-band repertoire, and a few other gems in Pruyn's hip pocket. Opening with Jimmy Dorsey's theme song, “Contrasts,” they worked their way through hit after hit, including “Stealin' Apples,” “When You're Smiling” and “June Night.” The latter was the first of many features for reed player David MacKenzie, who put his fresh stamp on classic Jimmy Dorsey alto sax solos.
James-Pruyn joined the program for a blend of uptempo and ballad features, taking on the role of the band's original songbird, Helen O'Connell. They included “Something's Gotta Give,” George and Ira Gershwin's “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and the Dorsey hit “Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy).” She returned in the second set for splendid takes on “Tangerine” and “The Man I Love,” finishing with a romp through the 1954 Rosemary Clooney hit “Mambo Italiano.”
|Stawski, Pruyn, James-Pruyn|
The five-member sax section shifted into a flute and clarinet choir as the band explored Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen's “All My Tomorrows.”
|David Pruyn, David MacKenzie|
The evening's big finish included “More Than You Know,” which reunited brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey for a 1945 V-Disc recording after an on-stage falling out seven years earlier; Jimmy Dorsey's signature hit “So Rare,” which was released after his death; a fresh take on “America the Beautiful” featuring MacKenzie on clarinet and Herb Bruce on trombone; and a most-natural closer.
That closer was a searing version of “Two O'Clock Jump” featuring baritone saxophonist Jonathan Cestero. This arrangement touched on a variety of big-band covers over the years. The classic swing hit, based on Count Basie's “One O'Clock Jump,” was first recorded by Harry James, then Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, among others. The band, powered all night by drummer Eddie Metz Jr., swung mightily.
|The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra|