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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee: Swing Makes You Happy!

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The George Gee Orchestra swings in the manner of Gee's friend and mentor, Count Basie, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale (Gee's group numbers only eleven, and that includes vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes). Even so, the Basie spirit is ever-present, and if Swing Makes You Happy, Gee's eighth album as leader (and first for Rondette Records) should put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Thanks to resourceful charts by trombonist / music director David Gibson, the ensemble generates a larger-than-expected sound while swinging its way through nineteen buoyant numbers, four associated with Basie ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The George Gee Big Band: Settin' the Pace

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Although they're not typically household names, a strong case can be made that no single group has had more of an influence on the sound of American music than arrangers. One thing that can't be disputed though, is that the arranger is front and center when it comes to big band swing. A first-person participatory tribute to the arranging skills of Frank Foster, the latest from the George Gee Big Band, Settin' the Pace, showcases Foster's music under his own direction. With the big band's seventeen musicians, Foster has plenty of brass at his disposal to chart the complete range ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee Big Band: Settin' The Pace

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The full-bodied big band arrangements of Frank Foster make this session swing with a lush tonality and a finger-snappin' groove. The New York ensemble that George Gee has put together tackles each standard piece with a passionate love for the art. And the timing is right. Settin' The Pace also serves as a fine tribute to what Count Basie developed and nurtured for us several decades past.

Outstanding soloists on Gee's big band session include Howard Johnson, Robert Trowers, Joe Cohn, Lance Bryant, Walt Szymanski, and Carla Cook. The three vocal numbers that feature Cook offer a particularly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee and the Jump, Jive and Wailers: Buddha Boogie

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George Gee, as energetic and enthusiastic a bandleader as you are likely to meet, has at least two bands under his baton, the larger Swing Orchestra and the Jump, Jive and Wailers, which is actually a tentet. And he may have three, if the Swing Orchestra isn’t a renamed version of Gee’s Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra, which recorded at least two albums a few years back. Whatever the case, the Wailers are a throwback to the jump/swing/proto-R&B groups of the ‘40s and ‘50s led by such showmen as Louis Prima, Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins and others, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The George Gee Swing Orchestra: Swingin' at Swing City Zurich

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According to the liner notes, George Gee’s Swingin’ at Swing City Zurich was recorded in a train station, the Hautbanhoff, an assertion that isn’t hard to believe once one hears the outcome. Having enthusiastically reviewed two of Gee’s earlier albums ( Swingin’ Live!, Swingin’ Away ), also recorded in concert, I was rather let down by Zurich. Not so much by the band, which recovers from an erratic start on “Trumpet Blues and Cantabile” to give the early-morning performance its best shot, but chiefly by the sound, which might best be described as unbalanced and out of focus.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Gee and His Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra: Swingin' Live! / Swingin' Away

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By now, most people who are musically inclined know that “swing” is making a comeback. Not exactly sweeping the country, but at least more widespread and popular than it has been in recent years. The problem is that many of swing’s better–known exponents are far more flashy than capable, and while the music may deliver some temporary kicks, there’s actually not much meat on its bones. There are, however, a handful of bandleaders who take their swinging more seriously. One of them is George Gee whose strapping 17–piece New York–based big band, presumably named for Martin Block’s popular Make–Believe Ballroom ...



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