George Gee: Swing Makes You Happy!
George Gee: Bandleader
David Gibson: Music Director and Trombone
Hilary Gardner on Vocals
John Dokes on Vocals
Ed Pazant on Alto Saxophone
Michael Hashim on Tenor Saxophone
Anthony Lustig on Baritone Saxophone
Andy Gravish on Trumpet
Freddie Hendrix on Trumpet
Steve Einerson on Piano
Marcus McLaurine on Upright Bass
Willard Dyson on Drums
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2016
This CD is a highly professional album of traditional and contemporary swing, each recorded for parties, dancing, and lively listening entertainment. With a nine piece orchestra, plus two vocalists, bandleader, George Gee gives us renowned tunes, like “If I Were a Bell”, and original compositions by the music director, David Gibson, who also plays trombone. The vocal arrangements are retro in stylized motif, even in Herbie Hancock’s “A Tribute to Someone”, as well as five tunes by Gibson. Most magnetic are the numerous solos, notated on the cover, for each vocalist (and one duo vocal) and each musician. The Hancock ballad showcases Freddie Hendrix on his evocative trumpet. The tracks are a mix of bluesy, lyrical, sassy, urban, flirtatious, and yearning, all with inherent attitude. One track, with John Dokes on vocals, Eddie Miller’s “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water”, exuded both humor and longing. It was hard to choose four featured tracks, each was so engaging.
#3 – Lindy Hopper’s Delight – Composed by E. Barefield / Teddy McRae. You’ll be transported right back to the Big Band era with this music, so rousing and rambunctious. This is the essence of partner dance, with Willard Dyson’s punctuated drums, Marcus McLaurine’s buoyant bass, and Steve Einerson’s sensational piano. This track is also infused with well-placed solos for Freddie Hendrix on a dizzy and wild trumpet, David Gibson on a billowy trombone, Michael Hashim on tenor sax, and Ed Pazant on alto sax. This music is dynamically danceable.
#11 – If I Were a Bell – Composed by Frank Loesser. With Hilary Gardner and John Dokes on vocals, this Frank Loesser song from the 1950 Guys & Dolls emblemizes romance. Ms. Gardner reaches those highest notes with ease, a smooth, enchanting vocalist, and Mr. Dokes sings with deep, earthy, endearing tones. With this track showcasing duo vocals, the ensemble fuses gorgeously for splashy, dashy, Broadway-styled pizzazz. The combination of brass and rhythm creates a luscious backdrop.
#12 – It Was a Very Good Year – Composed by E. Drake. This 1961 Ervin Drake tune, later made famous by Frank Sinatra, is, on Gee’s album, an incredible tune with a lead solo by Hashim on tenor sax. The sax takes Sinatra’s magnetic theme, flips fragments around, here and there, but mainly sticks to the moody melody. Piano, bass, and drums are prominent, but, within, there are full-horn phrases that add depth and resonance. This is a must-listen-to-twice track.
#15 – Hash Mash – Composed by D. Gibson. David Gibson, the album’s music director, transcriber, arranger, and trombonist, as noted above, composed pieces on five tracks. “Hash Mash” features Einerson on piano, Gibson on trombone, and Hashim on tenor sax. This contemporary swing tune is more jazzy and urban than are those noted above, with fervor, electricity, and pulse. The brassy solos stretch the high notes with dissonance and daring.