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George Gee Big Band

- Jazz and Cabaret Performance Reviews

George Gee Big Band
(Website)
At Birdland
315 West 44th Street, NYC
212.581.3080
www.birdlandjazz.com
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager
See Other Birdland Reviews 2

Bandleader: George Gee
Special Guest and Guest Bandleader: Frank Foster
Vocalist: Carla Cook
Saxophones: Ed Pazant, Marshal McDonald,
Michael Hashim, Lance Bryant, Alex Harding
Trombones: Charles Stephens, Eddie Bert,
Robert Trowers, Jack Jeffers
Bass Clarinet: Howard Johnson
Trumpets: Walt Szymanski, Steve Wiseman,
Mark McGowan, Shawn Edmonds
Piano: Jon Cowherd
Bass: Daryl Hall
Guitar: Joe Cohn
Drums: Willard Dyson

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 20, 2004

Tonightís first set at Birdland was a selection of Frank Foster arrangements for the George Gee Big Band. Frank Foster, renowned arranger and composer, was Guest of Honor at this tribute. George Gee and Foster go back together many years, and they would be collaborating the very next day on a CD recording, their first studio album, to celebrate Mr. Fosterís music. The last performance of Frank Foster and the George Gee Big Band was in 2002 at Frankie Manningís birthday party at Roseland. In 1995, Foster and George Gee performed together at the Metropolis Jazz Club, with Foster on saxophone. Foster and George Gee are mutual admirers, and it showed tonight, as Foster was invited to lead this 17- piece band.

The first piece, Out of Nowhere, led by George Gee, was smooth and seamless. The trombones were muted with little hats. When Your Lover Has Gone included an excellent ballad on trumpet, a beautifully fused arrangement with backup. Ellingtonís In a Sentimental Mood, was romantic, mellow, and warm. The sax trills were effervescent and evocative. Charlie Parkerís Scrapple from the Apple included a blazing and buoyant sax, followed by a trumpet solo. Powerful horns, back and forth, Edmondís trumpet and one sax, went wild.

George Gee has perky personality and presence. The snare drum took off with rim blasts, and George Gee pretended he was shot, a cute effect. Trowers on trombone and Cowherd on piano added to this dynamic dimension. Carla Cook, vocalist, added a warm, vibrant dimension to this eveningís celebration of the imminent recording. The upcoming pieces were announced by Frank Foster, Guest Bandleader, as Cirrhosis Blues, or Liver Come Back to Me. In The Very Thought of You, Ms. Cook exuded deep, distinctive tones. The Big Band evaporated, to allow her throaty vocalization to continue uninterrupted. Autumn Leaves was sung in a bouncy, energetic, jazzed-up version. When Joe Cohn was featured on guitar, there were sax and trumpet enhancements of pure brass that gave this Swing rhythm legs. The next piece, led by Daryl Hall on bass, set up a skipping rhythm, with Frank Foster still leading the band.

Kudos to Frank Foster, George Gee, and Gianni Valentiís Birdland for this memorable evening of quintessential Swinging Big Band.

Photos courtesy of Jorge Fernandez


David Ostwald and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Frank Wess (See Frank Wess at Jazz at Lincoln Center Basie Tribute)
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Jorge Fernandez, Guest, and Roberta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Frank Foster Conducts
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



George Gee Big Band
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Carla Cook Sings
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Birdland Jazz Club
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Joe Cohn on Guitar
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



George Gee Big Band
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Frank Foster Conducts
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



George Gee Big Band
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



George Gee Big Band
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Jack Jeffers and Renato Thoms, Percussionist
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



George Gee
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net