After a late start to Albany we arrived shortly after George Gee and his band started their first set. I set up my laptop to DJ, realized I had left my external soundcard in the car and decided it would be best to queue up some music that I could preview. I spent a good bit of time dragging out some tunes, got a dance or two in and then my set was up. You can check out my set list here.
I’ve heard a great deal of recordings of George Gee and I haven’t always enjoyed them but live was a whole different affair. It’s rare that I get to dance to a big band (mostly small groups) and it was a great experience to have them pull out wonderfully arranged tunes by Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson and more than only really work with a full band behind them.
Two highlights of the night to keep it short. The first was at the end of my first set, I rounded it off with Fletcher Henderson’s composition Down South Camp Meeting played by the Benny Goodman Orchestra. As the song ended the band picked up and mastered the same tune, but live. I normally think to avoid having the same number run twice in a night or even a weekend; but to have a live version of such a great tune was excellent. The second highlight was their rendition of Frank Fosters Shiny Stockings which is such a gorgeous song.
After the band closed up for the night I headed over to late night to spin my last hour and a half. The venue was mostly empty when I got there, so I started with some old but light swing tunes (Johnny Hodges, Andy Kirk and Duke Ellington) but the dancers were mostly filtering in, socializing and eating peanut butter sandwiches. No one was really dancing. I switched it up to some Marvin Gaye (How Sweet It Is) and people hopped up. That was the beginning of a party set (people dug it) and the room filled with dancing couples. Once the floor was going, I transitioned to finish off my set with some solid tunes (Artie Shaw – Back Bay Shuffle, Count Basie – 920 Special, etc.). Bronwyn started spinning after that.
Saturday, Ellie woke us to fresh pancakes, heated apple cider and apple sauce. With a good meal in us people headed off to the afternoon dance. I diverged to the local Goodwill to check out their wares found nothing in my size (it is quite difficult shopping in the States). With a 20 oz. latte from a local coffee shop at RPI entitled Java++ (a good tech joke) we stopped in to the dance. Albany exchanges are very nice for their social atmosphere and it was a good time for the hour or so I was there.
Dinner was at the local Nothing but Noodle and we crashed for a couple hours watching Shrek. I popped into my black three piece suit, slipped on my chucks and was ready for the hot band. I’ve talked about Gordon Webster from SONH before and this night was no different. His band was on fire with the amazing addition of Barbara Morrison and an excellent trombonist (Roland Barber). The music was full, rich and warm with the solid backing of George Reed on drums and a solid bassist. Barbara even got out on the floor and danced. She has such wonderful charisma and fills up the room unlike any singer.
Late night was alright with a small group led by Joshua Fialkoff. The energy from Gordon and Barbara had left people on a high energy note; however the band played groovy tunes with a funk-like bass line and a drummer who didn’t give that chunk-a-chunk. The energy lapsed. If the band had played a funk or motown groove that could have been exceptionally fun.
Sunday afternoon was exceptionally nice. Taking place at a picnic at a local state park, with the gorgeous weather and changing leaves, it was an ideal end to the weekend. Although I didn’t dance much, the social atmosphere was excellent and I commend the organizers for a weekend well done.