Friday, October 31, 2014

Jazz singer shares new understanding of certain songs

June Garber
Transformative moments in life have an impact on music. Sometimes they inspire it. Sometimes they underscore the meaning within the lyrics, or help listeners - and singers -  better appreciate them. 

Such was the case Thursday, October 30, when singer June Garber performed at the Venice (FL) Art Center at a South County Jazz Club matinee concert, backed by saxophonist-flutist Tom Ellison, pianist Eddie Tobin, bassist John Lamb and drummer Dave Pruyn.

A bit of background here to put the concert in context. Garber and her husband, Bob Doherty, moved to the Sarasota area two years ago, uprooting themselves from Toronto in favor of a more temperate climate. She quickly immersed herself in the area jazz scene and was welcomed as a splendid addition to the talent mix with her very high level of musicianship and her presence.

She was very busy until mid-November 2013, when her world fell apart. Doherty, her husband of 30 years, died unexpectedly. Garber, a longtime resident of Canada and native of South Africa, did not have American citizenship. She moved back to Toronto and begin the process of emotional healing.

She's back visiting southwest Florida for a couple of weeks, and sharing her voice, her heart and her memories of "Bobby" through song in a handful of performances before flying north again. 

John Lamb, June Garber
June Garber, Tom Ellison
On Thursday, Garber sang a blend of songs that Bob loved, or for which she has drawn a deeper appreciation since his passing. Examples: "The Man That Got Away" (best associated with Judy Garland), "I Thought About You" (which began as an intimate duo with Garber's voice and John Lamb's conversational bass technique), "You Go to My Head," "It Could Happen To You," "Just Squeeze Me," "You're My Thrill" and "I'm Gonna Live 'Til I Die."

Doherty may not have been in the room, but his emotional presence was palpable. The audience gave Garber a standing ovation after she closed with her extended interpretation of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." It was one of Doherty's favorite tunes, and, as she said a couple of nights earlier, "that's where he is."

It was great to see and hear Garber again, realize that she is indeed bouncing back and sounds even stronger now as a singer. She'll be back in Florida in March for a Sarasota Jazz Festival concert. She'll be backed by the Sarasota Jazz Project big band.
Eddie Tobin, John Lamb, Dave Pruyn, June Garber, Tom Ellison

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