and His Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra
recordings generally do not interest me. The sound quality is
inevitably poorer than a studio mix, and one always has the feeling
of having missed something. Listening to a live album is like
watching a party through a window, participating vicariously.
Gee's Swingin' Live! is the exception. Even recorded directly
off the soundboard at Irving Plaza in New York City, the 15-piece
band sounds impeccable. And, Gee's band leading and gleeful shouts
of encouragement at the close of almost every number give the
album a spark that many live recordings lack. Instead of feeling
left out, you will find yourself swept up in the exuberance of
the music and the audience response.
night starts off with a bang as the listener is invited to "Come
On In" and join the fun. Gee acts as emcee to the festivities
as he introduces the Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra and the second
number, "Blues For Stephanie." With command performances
by Cleave Guyton (alto sax), John Cowherd (piano), and Kenny Rampton
and Walt Szymanski (trumpets), Gee raises the bar for today's
American Popular Standards.
really get hoppin' by the fourth track, as vocal diva Carla Cook
turns up the heat with her spicy rendition of "Let the Good
Times Roll." She keeps the room simmering with "Here's
That Rainy Day." The night ends with "Splanky,"
my favorite song on the album. It has a mellow groove that polishes
off the CD neatly.
note: If you're used to the hard-hitting, fast-paced sounds of
bands like Cherry Poppin' Daddies, you might not appreciate the
cool groove of the Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra. Apples and
oranges, you know. But if you have a taste for classic big bandor
if you're a diehard danceryou'll certainly enjoy the band's
consistently smooth tempo and subtle rhythmic nuances. This CD
is a must for any modern swing enthusiast.
the band at www.georgegee.com
"Curious George" McMullen