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George Gee Swing Orchestra: Winter Wonderland

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George Gee Swing Orchestra: Winter Wonderland
After an absence of several years the New York City-based George Gee Swing Orchestra is back in a recording studio, doing what it does best—swinging merrily through a Winter Wonderland chock-full of holiday favorites that kids of all ages can relate to and appreciate.

Gee formed his first band while still in college at Carnegie Mellon University, one day after interviewing Count Basie on the campus radio station. After moving back to New York City, where he grew up, Gee formed the Swing Orchestra in 1990. Besides touring the world and recording eight albums prior to this one, the orchestra has had a regular gig at New York's SWING46 ever since.

Personnel has changed over the years but Gee's formula hasn't: find a compatible set of tunes, old or new, and simply make 'em swing. Even though most of the songs on Winter Wonderland have been around for more than a few years (and some for more than a century or three), they are no exception to that rule. The orchestra (actually a nonet with vocalist) comes out swinging on "Winter Wonderland (Mambo)!" and rarely pauses for breath through the last notes of "Jingle Bells."

In between are upbeat readings of the traditional classics "What Child Is This," "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "O Tannenbaum," pleasing vocals by John Dokes on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?," and one vocal duet (Dokes and Hilary Gardner) on Frank Loesser's risque favorite, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Even at slower tempos the ensemble maintains a swinging persona, thanks to clever arrangements by music director and trombonist David Gibson.

Gibson is one of the orchestra's first-class soloists, with other sharp statements along the way courtesy of trumpeters Freddie Hendrix and Andy Gravish, alto Anthony Nelson Jr., tenor Michael Hashim, baritone Patience Higgins and pianist Steve Einerson. Of course, any band that lays claim to swing must have an alert, hard-working rhythm section, and Gee has that base covered with Einerson, bassist Malik McLaurine and drummer Chris Latona firing on all cylinders.

Gee has always loved swing, and has built his pocket-sized orchestra with that in mind. While Winter Wonderland may not be a touchstone, there can be no doubt that it swings—which to its leader is the whole idea. Long live swing and long live the George Gee Swing Orchestra.

Track Listing

Winter Wonderland Mambo; What Child Is This?; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; I’ll Be Home for Christmas; Baby, It’s Cold Outside; The Christmas Song; O Tannenbaum; What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?; Jingle Bells.

Personnel

George Gee
composer / conductor
Andy Gravish
trumpet
Michael Hashim
saxophone, sopranino
Patience Higgins
saxophone, tenor
David Gibson
trombone
Malik McLaurine
bass, acoustic
John Dokes
vocals
Eddie Pazant
saxophone, alto
Tony Lustig
saxophone, baritone

Album information

Title: Winter Wonderland | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Published


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