George Gee is a native New Yorker and has led a big band for three decades. His swing outfit delighted both dancers and listeners in Pittsburgh and the Tri State area before returning home to New York in 1990. The present 10 piece band can be seen every Tuesday at the Swing46 Jazz & Supper Club on West 46th Street.
With the exception of one track, all tunes were recorded in January 2007. James P.Johnson’s "Victory Stride" is from a 1999 session and is a modernized version of Johnson’s original 1941 record that featured Sidney DeParis, Vic Dickenson, Ben Webster and Big Sid Catlett. Rick Germanson handles the piano duties on this track.
The CD kicks off with a sizzling reading of "All The Cats Join In." Listeners of this writer’s vintage will recall the piece from an animated jitterbug clip in the 1945 film, "Make Mine Music" and featuring Benny Goodman and Cozy Cole. Dan Block takes the clarinet solo on George Gee’s rendition.
With obvious admiration for several swing veterans, the leader packaged a fine selection of material made famous by such legends as Goodman, Krupa, Basie, Hampton and Fletcher Henderson. Walt Szymanski ably handled the arrangements and lead trumpet. Dan Barrett arranged the title tune. Barrett is known for his recordings on the Arbors Jazz label.
Maxjazz vocalist, Carla Cook, appears on "It Had To Be You." Cook is one of this writer’s favorite songbirds.
The songs on George Gee’s newest CD are not rehashed standards. It’s nice to see Eddie Durham’s "Topsy" and the Durham/Basie collaboration "Shorty George." Another unusual offering is a solid rendition of a Gene Krupa/ Roy Eldridge tune titled "Ball Of Fire" and on occasion "Nothing Yet." Willard Dyson’s drumming and Walt Szymanski’s trumpet give the old piece a fine "new look."
Interest listeners can find sound samples at your favorite on-line record store. It’s worth a visit!