Meet the George Gee Orchestra players:
John Dokes – vocals
John Dokes has been an avid NYC lindy hop dancer since the mid-1990s, and a regular at many George Gee shows. One day, he approached George and said it was his dream to sing with the band. Many aspiring and working vocalists ask to “sit in,” so George was skeptical at first. Then, when the Orchestra was playing at a birthday party for legendary dancer and scene mainstay Dawn Hampton, she personally requested that John sing with the band. To the delight of all, he swung lightly and skillfully through a rendition of Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” — his electrifying stage presence immediately apparent. And he continues to awe audiences with his bluesy vocal presentation and dazzling footwork!
Willard Dyson – drums
A longstanding member of the Gee organization, drummer Willard Dyson has been our chief rhythm maker for nearly 17 years. With top jazz credentials and extensive R&B experience with singer Regina Belle, Willard provides beats peppered with an adventurous and often humorous undertone – constantly propelling the group to higher levels of swingin’ delirium!
Steve Einerson – piano
Wisconsin native Steve Einerson has been tinkling the keys with the Gee bands for more than five years. Since joining the Gee orchestra, his first steady big band gig, Steve has fine-tuned his personal musical style. Don’t let his understated stage presence understate his mastery of the jazz keyboard! From swing to bebop to boogie-woogie, Steve does it all and always anchors the pulse of the rhythm section with his colorful chords – never redundant, constantly innovative!
Chris Flory – rhythm guitar
Benny Goodman veteran Chris Flory joined the George Gee Orchestra as rhythm guitarist during summer 2012, as the band embarked on its first jazz tour of Brazil. He is a student of the classic style of a longtime Basie rhythm maker, fellow guitarist Freddie Greene. Chris adds a swing-solid pulse to Gee’s rhythm section and helps it swing extra hard!
Hilary Gardner – vocals
George admits he is a particularly tough judge of “band canaries.” The Orchestra went years without a female vocalist, because George could not find anyone who possessed not just personal style and vocal chops, but also a love for the history of the big band. Sure, the road paved by Ella Fitzgerald, June Christy, Peggy Lee, Maxine Sullivan, Sarah Vaughn, et al., is a hard one to follow. But when George met the sweet-natured Hilary Gardner, she proclaimed a love for Anita O’Day (whose hipness George has also always admired) and showed she would be a perfect addition to the band. A bit demure, but with a quiet confidence, she proves a perfect foil for fellow vocalist John Dokes during their featured duets.
David Gibson – trombone/music director
As a solo artist, David Gibson has released several respected jazz albums on Posi-tone Records and is considered a foremost jazz trombonist. He also is a key member of the Gee musical organization, wearing many hats on and off the bandstand. He demonstrates a burning dedication to the group’s mission to preserve the big band art form, simultaneously guiding the evolution and respecting its roots. As music director, his attention to details is constant and never-ending. Aside from his terrific work onstage, his musical contributions include many arrangements and original compositions that appear frequently in the orchestra’s repertoire. As a composer, he takes advantage of the bandmembers’ individual styles and evokes a sound that is fiercely personalized for this particular music-making outfit.
Andy Gravish – trumpet
A regular member of the Buddy Rich Big Band when Buddy was still at the helm, Andy Gravish brings a bounty of big band experience to the stage. Solid and dependable, with an eye for ensemble details, he also frequently features as a hot soloist. A regular member of the Gee band nearly two decades ago, Andy has recently made his triumphant return to our trumpet section. His comeback has revitalized both the section and the entire band, with his consistency and rock solid attitude.
Michael Hashim – tenor saxophone
When George was a college radio D.J. in Pittsburgh in the late 1970s, he discovered the recordings of the “Widespread Depression Orchestra.” He was encouraged to hear a young band playing the great jazz music of Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford and Duke Ellington with verve and happiness. The album cover included a group portrait, with a baby-faced saxophonist named Michael Hashim. George remembers wondering what was going through that guy’s noggin when he blew those Lester Young-influenced sax solos! Fast-forward three decades later: Michael has been a contributor and collaborator in the Gee bands for more than 10 years. His opinion is sought frequently thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge — from jazz history to political theory to surrealist art, Michael always offers fascinating insights. He keeps audiences interested… just as he does with his expressive tenor sax!
Freddie Hendrix – trumpet
Another new member of the George Gee brass section, Freddie Hendrix contributes his expertise and experience gained in part from his concurrent membership in the Count Basie Orchestra. His swingin’ jazz solos evoke such traditionalists as Roy Eldridge and Clark Terry, raising the roof on more than one occasion! Dancers and jazz lovers alike have been known to stop in their tracks in amazement, as Freddie reaches the upper level of his trumpet register, soaring skyward!
Paul Nedzela – baritone saxophone
Paul has studied with some of the foremost baritone saxophonists in the world, including Joe Temperely, Gary Smulyan, and Roger Rosenberg. While pursuing his musical studies, Paul graduated with honors in 2006 from McGill University in Montreal with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. A recipient of the Samuel L. Jackson scholarship award, he continued his musical studies at The Juilliard School and graduated with a Master of Music degree in 2008. Besides joining The George Gee Swing Orchestra in 2012, he also joined the ranks of The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
Marcus McLaurine – bass
String bassist Marcus McLaurine has been with the NYC version of the Gee Orchestra since its very beginning in 1990. His infectious steady beat makes everyone in the band (and the audience) want to bounce as he punctuates the rhythm with his four to the bar. Besides his two-decade relationship with the Gee band, his musical relationships also include regular stints with Clark Terry and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Ed Pazant – alto saxophone
At 74 years young, Ed Pazant holds the distinguished position of senior statesman in the Gee Orchestra. He has anchored the GG saxophone section for nearly 15 years. His fiery and greasy sax solos are grounded in decades of experience, dominated by his long tenure as Lionel Hampton’s lead alto saxophonist — traveling the world and swingin’ with some of the top innovators in jazz big bands. “Steady” Eddie’s professionalism and demeanor sets the precedent that the rest of the GG “youngsters” strive to attain, both in our musical and personal lives.
Additional members of The George Gee Orchestra musical family:
Drums: Brian Fishler, Kevin Kanner , Eric Halvorsen
Bass: Jacob Webb, Elias Bailey, Noah Garabardien
Piano: Jeremy Manasia, Wilerm Delisfort
Saxophone: Mark Gross, Brandon Wright, Lauren Sevian, Anthony Lustig, Julius Tolentino, Ian Hendrickson-Smith
Trombone: James Burton III, Nick Finzer, Mike Boscarino, Nick Grinder
Trumpet: Tatum Greenblatt, Alex Norris, Miki Hirose, Jonathan Powell, Reggie Pittman, John Raymond