he was a Freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, George Gee launched his Make-Believe Ballroom
program (named after the vintage Martin Block show) on
the college radio station - and told everyone who’d
listen about his dream of leading his own big band. In
an era when punk, new wave and heavy metal ruled, some
first thought that George was revisiting the past. Twenty
years later, it is delightfully clear that George was
just way ahead of his time!
The only Chinese-American Swing big band leader, George
Gee is unique in so many ways. The snap in his fingers,
the shuffle in his step and that unbridled joy he radiates
and spreads like ecstatic wildfire to all his world-class
musicians make immediate and permanent impressions on
audiences, dancers - even seasoned press! It must be in
his blood – since he was a kid, all George ever
wanted to do was lead his own big band.
A native New Yorker, George always loved music. He grew
up with rock’n’roll and R&B – but
also developed a powerful passion for Swing - especially
for the big band styles of Count Basie, Duke Ellington,
Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman,
Louis Jordan, Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway and other legends.
At renowned Stuyvesant High School, George wowed the crowds
(especially the girls!) with his flashy bass showmanship
in the school’s jazz band.
His college radio show was a huge hit! The station asked
George to interview his idol - William "Count"
Basie - before a campus concert. That extensive, exclusive
conversation would change George’s life forever.
Days later, he assembled his own 17-piece big band - the
Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra! Staffed by student players,
the band quickly became the darling of the campus community.
Throughout the 1980's, George spread his swing gospel
throughout the Pittsburgh tri-state region - from rowdy
frat houses to black-tie society galas, corporate events
and top nightclubs. But George knew what he needed to
He returned home to New York City in 1989, and summoned
top New York-based musicians - young and older veterans
of the world’s most legendary big bands - and Latin
and pop giants - to continue living his dream. With each
performance, George’s powerhouse 17-piece Make-Believe
Ballroom Orchestra continues to set new standards –
elegantly balancing the genuine big band tradition with
exhilarating modernism. His 10-piece Jump, Jive &
Wailers, formed in 1998, puts a new twist on big band
favorites and delivers all-out rollickin’ roadhouse
George also revels in his stature as a veritable Ambassador
of Swing. George is a much sough-after authority on the
evolution of the art. He has lectured at the New School
University, led clinics and master classes - and is a
popular source for newspaper, magazine, TV and Internet
reports. George also served as a primary expert for the
2000 nationally broadcast BRAVO documentary "This
Joint is Jumpin'’, featuring extensive interviews
throughout the two-hour film.
Like his beloved Pinky and the Brain cartoon, George readily
declares that his goal is "world domination"!
Why? "When people are swingin’, they’re
happy. It’s as simple as that."