If Dreams Come True (2007)

New York City bandleader George Gee (he is not listed as playing an instrument) and the Jump Jivin' Wailers little big band are into the swing thing, and re-create a dozen-plus-one classics and slightly obscure tunes from the golden era of jazz. Arranger and trumpeter Walt Szymanski contributes nine of the 13 charts done with a flair that emphasizes group interplay and slightly bolder accents than the originals. Clarinetist Daniel Block takes the lion's share of soloing, with tenor saxophonist Michael Hashim and Szymanski helping in that department secondarily. The experience Szymanski gained living and working in Detroit as the music director for drummer J.C. Heard's big band has obviously held him here in good stead. Another ex-Detroiter, baritone saxophonist Alex Harding is also a mighty presence. The music comes in-part from the book of Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, and American Popular songsmiths with a chestnut or knuckleball tossed in here and there. Block shines brightly on the Henderson flagwaver "Down South Camp Meeting," Eddie Sauter's fervent and fun "All the Cats Join In," and Benny Goodman's "If Dreams Come True." The whole band swings hardest collectively during the rapid-fire solos in Lionel Hampton's "Gin for Xmas" and James P. Johnson's strutting "Victory Stride." These are perfect vehicles for contemporary retro-swing endeavors. John Dokes sings as a pseudo-Jimmy Rushing on "Sent for You Yesterday," ex-Detroiter Carla Cook does the unrequited blues "It Had to Be You," and Szymanski vocally camps it up a bit for "Lulu's Back in Town." Though overall there are good if not clichéd choices of material, this for the most part is a listenable and enjoyable date, best appreciated by seasoned listeners.

AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos