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Matthew Gee: Jazz By Gee


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I'm going to choose Jazz by Gee, by trombonist Matthew Gee. He didn't have too many leader sessions (there is one other he coled with Johnny Griffin) and this is one terrific cd, made up of two sessions recorded in 1956, with this lineup:

The Quintet

Ernie Henry

Joe Knight

Wilbur Ware

Arthur Taylor

The Septet

Kenny Dorham

Frank Foster

Cecil Payne

Joe Knight

John Simmons

Arthur Taylor

I'm looking forward to talking about this cd.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am spinning this as I write.

I wouldn't call this a terrific CD - Gee was no J.J., not even no Bennie Green. His intonation leaves something to be desired. Green played smoother, more melodic and more inventive.

It's nice, but I wish they had made a whole album of the second session with Kenny Dorham (in a very lyrical mood), and Cecil Payne (could have had more of him) - Foster is somewhat uninspired here.

Do you have the Atlantic with Griffin - is that hotter?

You should check out Bennie Green if you haven't already done this.

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Okay, so who was Matthew Gee? There's not much in the web about him but he was part of what was called "brooklyn bebop". Gee started out playing trumpet, switched to baritone horn and settled on trombone when he was 11. He studied at Alabama State, worked with Coleman Hawkins, served in the Army and then played with Dizzy Gillespie on and off during 1946-49. Gee had stints with Joe Morris, the Gene Ammons-Sonny Stitt band, Count Basie (eight months in 1951), Illinois Jacquet, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie (for a brief time in his 1957 big band). He was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra on and off in the late 50s to early 60s and in later years played with a bunch of small combos including those of Paul Quinichette and Brooks Kerr.

He only led two dates, this one and the date referred to by Mike in his post.

His obvious influence was J.J. and while Bennie Green may have been a better player, this boppish date does happen to have some fine playing. More later.

Edited by Brad
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In response to what Mike had to say, I think he's quite comparable to Bennie and as far as being no J.J., heck who was? Matthew's sound is a bit sharper than Bennie's, whose sound is fuller but he has a good choice of songs and I think he and Ernie Henry complement each other. Everything is quite swinging here.

Let's start it off with Out of Nowhere and Joram from Matthew, Ernie Henry (as), Joe Knight (p), Wilbur Ware (b) and Art Taylor (ds) These are both taken at a medium pace and are fairly short unfortunately. In Out of Nowhere, there is a nice opening latin rhythm and Art Taylor gives it a nice steady beat to propel the band. Matthew has a short but understated solo and Ernie contributes some short nice blowing. After a short piano solo, Matthew comes back followed by a nice out chorus. Just a fine effort here.

In Joram, again it's at the medium beat. After the melody stated, Matthew takes over, with nice backup from Joe Knight and then Ernie chimes in with again Art Taylor providing solid support. Again, as the liner notes points out, the emphasis is on swinging and that's what's is achieved. Matthew and Ernie always sound good together.

Sweet Georgia Brown is a bit crisper and faster and Matthew takes a longer solo, stretching out some. The soloists never really dominate. The collective effort provides the result.

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I had a vinyl copy of Soul Groove a long while ago; somehow it slipped away unnoticed. :huh:

As a trombonist, what I love about Gee is his sound! Nice and fat! Yet despite that, he still is reasonably agile enough to get around the horn easily. Also, he had such a nice swing feel going on.

I have the "Jazz by Gee" reissue, but of the two, I think his playing is best represented on the Griffen date....but that's just me speaking here.


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Jazz by Gee is definitely not a classic. Side one sounds very casual, like the guys just met that day. Side two is better, sounding a lot more polished. Everything swings along nicely though and it's difficult not to like anything with these players on board. Gee's playing is fine, very dynamic, moving his horn on and off mic. Though as Mikeweil has noted above he's not a Benny Green. Still, it's one to keep.

I think I have Soul Groove. I'll add that to the to play pile but mine's a UK reissue titled "The Swingers Get The Blues Too". Hopefully it's the same thing.

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I have the original LP release of "Soul Groove" on Atlantic. The original year of release is 1964. Johnny Griffin is featured primarily, I believe Matthew Gee received equal billing because of his contributions as a composer (5 of the 8 tracks are his compositions). The liner notes include a lengthy discussion about Griffin, Gee is barely mentioned.

The base group is Griffin, Gee, Hank Jones on piano or organ, Aaron Bell on bass or tuba, Carlos "Patato" Valdes on bongos or congas, Art Taylor on drums.

On three of the Gee compositions, Hank Jones is replaced by John Patton on organ.

These are the stronger cuts on the LP IMO, due to the groove layed down by Patton.

All in all, fairly standard 60's soul jazz.



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  • 1 month later...

Julian Priester, in the January issue of Cadence, mentions that Gee stole his horn from a recording session. Priester was in Duke's band at the time and the guys were on break when Gee strolled in and swiped the trombone. There's more details in the magazine as to how he figured out what happened, got the horn back, etc. Apparently Gee was a big boozer.

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