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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 affable impression. She fits this band quite well.
While a student at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Gee had an opportunity to interview Count Basie for the school's radio program. This turning point in his career gave birth to his 17-piece big band and an eventual musical return to his native New York. "Mambo Inn" offers an in-depth look at the joyous celebration New York provides every day of the year. Gee is in his element here, and his studio session proves noteworthy. He's provided the means, the tools, and the right attitude for this band to take off. And they do.
Track Listing: Out of Nowhere; Settin' the Pace; Lover Come Back to Me; In a Sentimental Mood; Mambo Inn; Ready Now That You Are GG; Bass in Yo' Face; The Very Thought of You; When Your Lover Has Gone; Autumn Leaves; I Don't Want to Learn to Sing the Blues; Scrapple From the Apple.
Personnel: George Gee- leader; Frank Foster- conductor; Ed Pazant, Marshall McDonald- alto saxophone, flute; Michael Hashim- tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Lance Bryant- tenor saxophone, flute, vocal on "I Don't Want to Learn to Sing the Blues;" Howard Johnson- baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Charles Stephens, Robert Trowers, Eddie Bert- trombone; Jack Jeffers- bass trombone; Walt Szymanski, Steve Wiseman, Shawn Edmonds, Mark McGowan- trumpet, flugelhorn; Joe Cohn- guitar; Jon Cowherd- piano; Daryl Hall- bass; Willard Dyson- drums; Renato Thoms- percussion on "Mambo Inn;" Carla Cook- vocals on "Lover Come Back to Me," "The Very Thought Of You" and "Autumn Leaves."
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.