George Gee Swing Orchestra

New York City: On December 1, 2005 Baruch College (The City University of New York) will host The George Gee Swing Orchestra as part of the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives concert series, now in its 14th season.

The performance will take place in Baruch College's Cafeteria on the ground floor of the Vertical Campus building at 55 Lexington Avenue. The concert begins at 6 p.m. The performance will be preceded by a swing-dancing lesson at 5:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the general public and Baruch students, faculty, and administration.

This concert–organized by the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Committee–is funded by the Baruch College Performing Arts Center and The Baruch College Fund.

The George Gee Swing Orchestra (formerly known as "The Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra") enjoys their hard-earned reputation as the swingin'-est, blowin'-est, hepp-est classic big band in New York City. And they take special pride in their ranking as the #1 swing dance band by legendary Savoy dancers like Frankie Manning and Dawn Hampton - and dedicated fans around the world.

photo of George Gee Swing OrchestraThe 17-piece George Gee Swing Orchestra has been the powerhouse core of George's perpetual swing-fest for 25 years. George formed the Orchestra while he was a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. They remained based there throughout the 1980s. Even though the city was in dire economic straits -- and Swing hadn't been played regularly on pop radio in decades -- the George Gee Swing Orchestra flourished! The big band performed steadily - at colleges, clubs, country clubs, society events, concert halls and festivals - building an impressive, loyal fan base throughout the area. Road trips included jaunts to New York City for special appearances at Harlem's world-famous Apollo Theater and numerous "Savoy Sunday" shows for the New York Swing Dance Society.

When George returned home to New York City in 1990, he re-shaped his Swing Orchestra, loading it with master New York-based musicians who brought a profound diversity of musical and life experience to his bandstand. The repertoire still focuses on the classic big band songbooks of legends like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and the Dorsey Brothers - but George always ensures that even time-honored favorites are given a refreshing new twist.

George Gee Swing Orchestra 2The George Gee Swing Orchestra was the first big band to play on MTV. They were featured in an NBC-TV movie (with stars Tyne Daly and Richard Crenna) and were spotlighted on Entertainment Tonight, Live With Regis & Kathie Lee and performed for 11 million viewers on "Live from Lincoln Center" on PBS Television. They also provided specially scored music and made an "animated" appearance on an episode of the Fantastic Four cartoon for Marvel Comics. They've dazzled audiences from Boston to Beverly Hills and from Zurich to Tokyo. Recent highlights include headlining at Lincoln Center's prestigious Midsummer Night Swing with Broadway and cabaret star Ann Hampton Callaway, and a memorable corporate show at Disney World with Bill Cosby.

Hinton Series Background

The 1992 inaugural Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives concert starred jazz bassist Milt Hinton himself together with his picks for an "All-Star" ensemble: Seldon Powell (saxophonist), Bob Rosengarden (Drums), Mike Walters (saxophone and woodwinds), Derek Smith (piano), Jay D'Amico (piano), Mike Grey (trombone), and John "Bucky" Pizzarelli (guitar). This magical first concert saw famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis join the group during the second half.

The following year Tito Puente and his big band also played to a full house with some students and faculty dancing in the aisles. In 1994 the concert was billed as a "Tribute to Women in Jazz" and featured a performance by singer Ruth Brown and Friends and the group Straight Ahead. In 1995 trombonist extraordinaire Slide Hampton and the Big Band Bird filled the bill for the fourth annual concert.

In 1996 America's jazz statesman Dr. Billy Taylor and the Billy Taylor Trio graced the Baruch College stage. In 1997 Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band gave a performance that offered a unique blend of Latin and jazz traditions. The 1998 concert presented virtuoso drummer Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Big Band.

The world famous Mingus Big Band played at the 8th annual concert in 1999. The Bronx Horns, consisting of Tito Puente’s brass section, together with Dave Valentin (flute) and Randy Brecker (trumpet), performed at the 9th annual concert in 2000. In 2001, The Heath Brothers (“Percy, Jimmy, and Tootie”) with special guest Jimmy Owens, performed at the 10th annual concert.

In 2002 (season #11) the Hinton Committee expanded its offerings with a series of concerts, including a November 6, 2002 concert featuring “The Latin-Jazz All Stars” with several world-renown Latin-jazz musicians: trumpeter/leader Michael Mossman, tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, bassist Andy Gonzalez, and percussionist Phoenix Rivera. The 2002-2003 season also featured the Marty Sheller Big Band, Chris Washburne’s SYOTOS Latin-Jazz ensemble, and “Rumbamerica,” an Afro-Cuban ensemble made up of some of New York's top Afro-Cuban drummers, singers, and dancers.

The 2003-2004 season featured the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the “Sax in the City” quartet, the Ted Piltzecker Septet, and the Roberta Piket Trio.

As in the previous two years, for the 2004-2005 season the Hinton committee organized a series of concerts starting with the November 4, 2004 performance of the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Arturo O’Farrill. Dikki Du and the Zydeco Crew performed in the lobby of the vertical campus in early December 2004. On February 10, 2005 Grammy-nominated vocalist Carla Cook appeared in Baruch’s Engelman Recital Hall venue, as did the Andy LaVerne Piano-Organ Trio (with drummer Danny Gottlieb and keyboardist Gary Versace) in March 2005.

The 2005-2006 season saw "Drummer of the Year" Bobby Sanabria and Quarteto Ache perform in October 2005. Following the George Gee Swing Orchestra performance in December, the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives concert series will continue with the Turtle Island String Quartet in February 2006 and the Andy Middelton Octet in March 2006.

For further information contact:
Eugene Marlow, Co-Chair
Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Concert Series
Baruch College

The City University of New York