Bandleader George Gee leads one of NYC's most popular Swing/Jazz BIg Band!
A native New Yorker, George always loved music. He grew up with rock’n’roll and
R&B but in his teens, he also developed a powerful passion for jazz -- especially the big
band styles of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Cab
Calloway and other legends. At renowned Stuyvesant High School, George played the
double bass in the school’s jazz band, where he demonstrated an early flair for
This passion continued into his first year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
George created a big band music hour for the school's radio station; off-air, he often
spoke of his true long-time dream: leading his own big band. It's easy to imagine this idea
would not be readily accepted by college students in the early 1980s, but in fact, George
and his show were a huge hit!
The station manager asked George to interview William Count Basie before a campus
concert in 1979. This inspiring conversation changed George’s life... the very next day,
he reached out to fellow jazz players to create a 17-piece big band, which quickly became
a darling of the campus community.
Meeting a Mentor
One meeting led to a mentorship that has shaped George Gee’s whole career. A few
months after George created popular big band music show for Carnegie Mellon
University’s radio station, the station manager asked him to interview William Count
Basie before a campus concert in 1979. This inspiring conversation changed George’s
In George’s own words:
My December 1979 meeting with Count Basie was a pivotal point in my early big band
days, as his encouragement and attention was invaluable in the formation of my
confidence to pursue an unlikely career path: bandleader. That initial half-hour I spent
one-to-one with this musical legend and trendsetter in his dressing room at Carnegie
Music Hall was truly magical. For the next five years, I was blessed to continue my
personal relationship with him and he always asked about the progress of my band.
Mr. Basie's simplest words of advice were simply to persevere as a bandleader and I
would recall this whenever times were tough and I wanted to give it all up.
Also, most significantly, it was from him that I learned the importance of how this
happy music needs to be played by happy people! Experiencing the camaraderie of the
Basie Band firsthand and the love and utmost respect the musicians had for their leader
taught me the importance of such details, especially with a group of artists that spend so
much time together. A swingin' big band is a team, a family… a tribe.
Throughout the ‘80s, George honed his craft, spreading the gospel of swing throughout
the Pittsburgh tri-state region, from rowdy frat houses to black-tie society galas, corporate
events, weddings and nightclubs.
He returned home to New York City in 1990, and gathered top New York-based
musicians -- including veterans of the world’s most legendary big bands -- to continue
living his dream.
Music by the George Gee Orchestra sets new standards for modern big band
performance, elegantly balancing genuine big band traditions with exhilarating
modernism. This swingin’ versatile ensemble can deliver everything from a sweet foxtrot
ballad to rock and soul party favorites to all-out rollickin’ roadhouse boogie! Whether
it’s with a full complement of 17 players or the 10-piece configuration affectionately
called the “economy big band,” the band is enduringly popular with jazz concert and
swing dance audiences throughout the United States and around the world.
A few notable career highlights have included: Playing at Ozzy Osbourne’s 50th birthday
party in Beverly Hills. Being the first modern-era swing band welcomed from the West to
perform at a swing dance event in Japan. Quincy Jones summoning the band to perform
for the Royal Family of Jordan. Sitting onstage at the Zurich Swing City Festival in front
of an audience of 15,000. And so many more!
George Gee has led the Tuesday night house band at Swing 46 in Manhattan every week
since the club opened in May 1997, and the band made weekly appearances at the
Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center and original Supper Club (now known as the
We’ve traveled a long road – many long roads, literally and figuratively – and I’m proud
to say that today, swing music, jazz and the big band art form are not only alive and well,
but enjoying their widest popularity since their heydays,” George says.
As the world's only Chinese-American swing big bandleader, George has a unique
crosscultural perspective that creates a particular interest in bridging differences among all
the people worldwide who enjoy this music and the vintage context.
“I have always been proud of my Chinese-American heritage and it has always helped me
stand out among a crowd (as much as there is a crowd of swing big bandleaders!),”
George loves all big band music, even when it’s not his own band playing. He’s a popular
and skilled swing music DJ with an extensive collection of recordings perfect for parties,
dances and special events. He specializes in an All Big Band, All the Time format
On a related note, George is proud of his stature as an authority on swing-era music and
history. He has lectured at the New School University, led clinics and master classes, and
is a popular source for reporters, bloggers and TV productions on the subject. For
example, George appeared in several segments in the two-hour 2000 Bravo TV
documentary, This Joint is Jumpin” (available on DVD); more recently in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times and local CBS affiliate online.
A passionate student of the big band era and swing music as a living art form, George is
also well known for his deep knowledge of music and cultural history, and has delivered
numerous fascinating history lectures to groups of swing fans or school groups. His more
than three decades’ experience as a big bandleader, complemented by his relationships
with top jazz and dance artists, has provided a unique understanding of the culture,
lifestyle and creativity of the swingin’ life.
George is proud of his stature as an authority on swing-era music and history. He has
lectured at the New School University, led clinics and master classes, and is a popular
source for reporters, bloggers and TV productions on the subject. For example, George
appeared in several segments in the two-hour 2000 Bravo TV documentary, This Joint is
Jumpin.'’ More recently, he has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times
and local CBS affiliate online.
And if you want a night of big band sounds without the big band, George is also happy to
create a different sort of set list: His extensive collection of recordings has created a
demand for his DJ services at parties, dances and special events. He specializes in an All
Big Band, All The Time format. His experiences as a bandleader transfer to his DJing,
so he can flawlessly keep the music flowing and the dance floor packed. He has DJed
dance parties for Yehoodi.com’s Frim Fram Jam, the New York Swing Dance Society
and Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing festival in New York City; Lindygroove
and Swing Camp Catalina in southern California; and for swing dance societies in Tokyo,
Seoul, and Zurich.