Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Van Alexander Centennial Celebration Swing Dance Party featuring The George Gee Swing Orchestra at Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada Club in LA on July 12


The George Gee Swing Orchestra, one of New York’s premiere swing big bands, returns to the world famous Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada Club at the Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles for an evening of swing music and dance honoring the great Chick Webb / Savoy Ballroom music man, Grammy honoree Van Alexander (composer of the Ella Fitzgerald hit song “A Tisket A Tasket”) in celebration of his 100th birthday at an exclusive once-in-a-lifetime centennial swing dance party Sunday, July 12th.

In the more than three decades since its inception, the George Gee Swing Orchestra has spread the “Gospel of Swing” to the far corners of the globe, doing its part to keep fingers snappin’ and toes tappin’ with its happy music for happy people. The popular ensemble sets new standards for modern big band performance, elegantly balancing genuine traditions with exhilarating modernism. The versatile swingin’ ensemble can deliver everything from a sweet foxtrot ballad to rollicking roadhouse boogie, all to the delight of the many hoofers who swarm the dance floor for its invigorating performances.

George Gee. Photo by Lia Chang

George Gee. Photo by Lia Chang

The orchestra will no doubt deliver a particularly exciting performance, inspired by the classic art deco surroundings of the Cicada Club that recall the grandeur of Hollywood’s glamorous golden age of nightclubs, as well as the presence of one of Gee’s heroes, the great Chick Webb / Savoy Ballroom music man, Van Alexander, the composer of the Webb/Ella Fitzgerald classic “A Tisket A Tasket”, and countless other swing era staples performed by the likes of Benny Goodman, Dean Martin, Kay Starr, Dinah Shore, Doris Day, and Peggy Lee.

George Gee 17-Piece Swing Orchestra at The Edison Ballroom in New York for Frankie's Centennial Savoy Ball on May 23, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

George Gee 17-Piece Swing Orchestra at The Edison Ballroom in New York for Frankie’s Centennial Savoy Ball on May 23, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Gee proclaims, “Van Alexander’s legacy with the Chick Webb Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald and the Savoy Ballroom is so important. Van is a true bridge to the classic Savoy style big band of Harlem from the 30s and 40s. It is my honor to have him as a fan of the George Gee Swing Orchestra. He came to our “Battle of the Big Bands” in Culver City (CA) last summer and was thrilled and awed by the modern day community of lindy hop and big band enthusiasts. He turned 100 on May 2nd and he plans on attending this show as our special VIP honoree. He is celebrating his centennial and is ready to swing, so it’s very important to us that we trumpet his many achievements. I just want to make sure that there’s more awareness of his importance, especially among the swing dance world. He is definitely a Vintage Master of Swing!”

“The George Gee Swing Orchestra’s music director, trombonist David Gibson is transcribing a few of Webb’s big hits, in particular Webb’s theme song “Let’s Get Together” and Van’s biggest hit “A Tisket A Tasket”. Popular L.A. vocalist Barbara Morrison is scheduled to come and sing the Ella Fitzgerald parts on that Hit Parade classic for this special show, joining our regular singer John Dokes. We will be doing a lot of selections from the classic Chick Webb era repertoire; a lot of the music associated with the Savoy Ballroom, plus selections from our latest CD Swing Makes You Happy! (Rondette Jazz),” which includes Webb’s “Lindy Hopper’s Delight,” “Blue Minor,” and “Midnight in a Madhouse.” Joining the band, lighting up the dance floor, will be the amazing lindy hop antics of The Hollywood Hotshots and tap dancing sensation Chester Whitmore, making the Cicada Club jump with the spirit of the Savoy, “Harlem’s Home of Happy Feet”.

The world-famous, elegant art deco Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada Club at the Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles is located at 617 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Tickets for this exclusive and once-in-a-lifetime Centennial Celebration Swing Dance Party are $20 in advance or $25 day of the show.  A special delicious 3-course dinner package is offered for $69 per person.  Doors open at 6:00 PM. Showtime at 8:30 PM. For reservations and further information call 213 488-9488 or visit

George Gee Swing Orchestra’s new CD SWING MAKES YOU HAPPY on Rondette Jazz.
10259718_10152434628941412_4844349568123413987_n“Relentlessly energetic,……. finding inventive ways to move the music into new territory while staying  true to its roots.”

Downbeat Magazine
​”They make music that sings the virtues of swing for all to hear!”
“….doubt there’s a better sui generis band in America…and most likely Europe too.”

Click here to buy the CD.

Freddie Hendrix – Trumpet
John Dokes – Vocalist
Andy Gravish – Trumpet
Mike Hashim – Tenor Sax
Tony Lustig – Baritone Sax
David Gibson – Trombone
Steve Einerson – Piano
Marcus McLaurine – Bass
Willard Dyson – Drums
Hilary Gardner – Vocalist

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

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Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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