Count Basie’s legacy gets an uplift here with bandleader George Gee’s latest effort featuring his seventeen-piece orchestra. The Count’s one time musical director and saxophonist Frank Foster is credited with the production and direction along with featured soloist, trumpeter Walt Szymanski. Nonetheless, Basie’s Jump Music
stylization swings into this young millennium with a brash outlook thanks to the orchestra’s vibrancy of execution and soaring thrust.
Jazz vocalist Carla Cook steps into the spotlight on several works, including Ray Noble’s classic torch ballad, "The Very Thought Of You." With the opener "Out of Nowhere," Jon Cowherd sets the pace with a Basie style, trickling piano into, followed by the band’s exuberant swing vibe. Moreover, Gee enlists veteran jazz warriors, trombonist Eddie Bert, tuba maestro, Howard Johnson and other notables.
Among many of the album’s highlights, is Gee’s joyous interpretation of Mario Bauza’s "Mambo Inn." On this piece, you’ll hear layered textures and punchy horn charts riding atop Latin-jazz percussion grooves and a lyrically rich theme. Overall, Gee shrewdly modernizes the Basie slant during the preponderance of this fabulous outing. (Recommended.... )