The first few bars of "All the Cats Join In" rolled out featuring Dan Block’s clarinet and I oooed to nobody in particular, ‘This is going to be a good CD.’ George Gee and the Jump, Jivin’ Wailers Swinger Orchestra’s If Dreams Come True lives up to the CD cover billing of "classic big band jazz for listen’ & dancin’."
If you are a fan of having your jazz with a lot of horns, you will enjoy this album. Musical director Walt Szymanski’s trumpet solo on Count Basie and Harry Edison’s "Shorty George" is masterful. The tune honors Shorty George Snowden, a barely five foot tall dancer at the Savoy Ballroom during the late 1920s and early 1930s, and considered to be the innovator of the lindy hop dance step. Throughout the CD Brian Bonvissuto (trombone), Mark Gross (alto sax/clarinet), Michael Hashim (tenor sax) and Alex Harding (baritone sax) are at the top of their game.
Being too young to remember the heyday of big band swing jazz in the thirties and forties, my only impressions of that era have come from period movies or bands such as this one. The cinema screen of my imagination however was flashing with pictures of all those old or period movies and the romance of the day.
Smooth and completely unblemished is the best way to describe the band’s recreation of tunes such as the title track "If Dreams Come True" and "Sent For You Yesterday." John Dokes gives a wonderful vocal performance on the later tune, while Willard Dyson goes soloing on drums during "If Dreams Come True."
Throughout the CD If Dreams Come True in terms of excellence, bassist Marcus McLaurine matches the horns step for step. McLaurine is particularly noticeable on Irving Berlin’s "Puttin’ On The Ritz."
The critically acclaimed singer Carla Cook is simply outstanding with her interpretation of "It Had To Be You," surely evoking heart palpitations among men everywhere. When the Grammy nominated Cooks sings, "Nobody else gave me a thrill," you want to believe that it is you she is singing to. There are no wasted or misspent phrases in her vocal performance.
Another highlight to look for on this CD is "Lulu’s Back In Town" with another sparkling clarinet performance from Dan Block and an incredible vocal interpretation by Walt Szymanski. The singer’s rich, deep vocals make this song worth spinning over and over again.
This reviewer gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to bandleader George Gee and Jump, Jivin’ Wailers Swing Orchestra for creating a spectacular album with If Dreams Come True. Symanski has created some very good arrangements.
The album hits the streets on May 29th.