Bandleader: George Gee; Vocalists: Hilary Gardner, John Dokes. Reeds: Mark Gross & Julius Tolentino (alto), Michael Hashim & Anthony Lustig (tenor); Lauren Sevian (baritone). Trombones: David Gibson; Corey Wallace; Nick Finzer, Barry Cooper. Trumpets: Alex Norris, Andy Gravish, Freddie Hendrix. Piano: Steve Einerson. Upright Bass: Marcus McLaurine. Guitar: Chris Flory; Drums: Willard Dyson.
George Gee brought his entire 17-piece big band swing orchestra to Frankie Manning’s Savoy Centennial Ball with vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes. George has been playing for Frankie events since the 1990’s, including Frankie’s 85th at Roseland, recorded and released on the Zort CD Swingin’ Away. This CD includes live “Stompin’ At The Savoy” with Frankie Manning himself calling the Shim Sham, which has become THE version of Shim Sham revered by Lindy Hoppers world-wide.
For the Savoy Ball, George presented a special exclusive Frankie program, focusing on Savoy Style music from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Chick Webb. This was the music loved by Frankie Manning, and George played almost all of the songs on the CD Frankie Manning’s Really Swingin’ Big Band Favorites. George’s band played along to two videos of Frankie dancing from 1999’s Frankie’s 85 Birthday – Lunceford’s “T’aint What You Do” and “Shiny Stockings.” Just a few weeks before Frankie Manning passed, in March 2009, Frankie danced to Shiny Stockings at George’s Birthday Party at Swing 46, NYC.
At the Ball, two special surprise events. The first spectacular performance was Dawn Hampton dancing to Splanky with Ryan Francois and John Dokes – an exclusive for the Ball. Then, a surprise was the appearance of Chester Whitmore who delivered a hilarious tap performance with Michael Hashim spicing the music. Chester was relaxing after his previous night’s performance at the Apollo Theater as part of the Frankie 100 celebration.
Here is George and Frankie a few weeks before Frankie died, at George’s Birthday Party at Swing 46:
Frankie and Chazz Moke and Poke:
Frankie and Norma Dancing to Shiny Stockings at Frankie 85:
George Gee Website