Swing Makes You Happy! isn't just an album title: it's a mantra and belief system that guides the George Gee Swing Orchestra, a little big band intent on rekindling the ear's love affair with music associated with a bygone era. Gee has been in the big band business for more than three decades, but it's his eighteen-years-and-counting residency at New York City's Swing46 Jazz and Supper Club that has afforded him the opportunity to fine tune and ...read more
The George Gee 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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more