Last year I reviewed an album by one of the modern swing bands, that of Bob Mintzer, and it helped me to understand that the newer guys can swing just as well as many of those from the early era. (In fact I chose that album as my album of the year.) That newly-gained insight came in handy with this new album from George Gee and and the Jump Jivin’ Wailers, If Dreams Come True.
Truthfully, Gee’s NY-based group is probably not quite at the level of Mintzer’s, but they are a veteran, polished ensemble with several albums already to their credit, and they know how to swing. They are obviously enjoying themselves, and they put on a pretty good show, judging by their resumé. Not only are they popular on tour, but they’re regulars at Lincoln Center’s special “Midsummer Nights Swing” event, and at the Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room, where they always enjoy enthusiastic crowds.
Gee, a New Yorker who grew up loving swing music, always saw his destiny as that of a bandleader. While in college in the 1980’s, he began trying to make that happen by organizing and working with various groups. He was perfectly positioned when swing music made a comeback in the next decade, and along with orchestras such as that of Brian Setzer and quirky groups like Squirrel Nut Zippers, George Gee’s band was a success.
In addition to Gee, the other guiding light of the group is co-founder Walt Szymanski, who also serves as music director, plays the trumpet and occasionally sings. A number of talented musicians make up the rest of the group, which usually numbers 10, but has been known to grow for special occasions.
It’s probably important to remember that these guys aren’t trying for cutting-edge jazz, but they fill the bill as a fun, feel-good, lively musical experience. If you think retro-swing is your thing, listen to a few of the clips below and see if you like what you hear.
George Gee and and the Jump Jivin’ Wailers, If Dreams Come True.