|George Gee And His Jump, Jive & Wailers - Buddha Boogie|
|Written by Joe Wood|
If Harlem’s famed ballrooms were only swingin’ again, they would undoubtedly be filled with the sounds of George Gee’s arrangements. Gee’s smaller line-up, The Jump Jive & Wailers, manages to capture the authentic big band sound of days gone by, and the band’s newest offering, Buddha Boogie, brings back the allure of The Savoy era.
With a name like The Jump Jive & Wailers, one might assume the album is a collection of Louis Prima-influenced swing. But Gee sticks with his trademark sound of smooth, Basie-influenced big band and jump-blues compositions across all 14 tracks. Tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant and lead trumpet player Walt Szymanski, two of Gee’s top performers, take the reigns under his band leadership. Bryant wrote four of the tracks off Buddha Boogie, “Buzzin’ Baby,” “She’s Never Satisfied,” “Duckin’ & Divin’” and “Foo-La-Di-OoWee Dot,” which help define the George Gee/Manhattan sound. Meanwhile, Szymanski has rearranged several classic big band numbers, including “The Continental,” “My Heart Stood Still” and “You’re the Boss” (which many will remember from Brian Setzer’s duet with No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani on his Dirty Boogie).
The 10-piece Wailers are a leaner, more efficient team of musicians compared to Gee’s 17-man Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra, and the music on Buddha Boogie is better to dance to, better arranged and more reflective of Gee’s live performances. Consider this album another milestone for Manhattan’s big band sound.