Friday, May 18, 2007

Jan Garber

> For most of the readers of this blog Jan Garber may be a rather familiar name or at least a name somewhere hidden far away in the remembrance of the history of popular music. Jan Garber was a well known bandleader and radio star in the 1920s up to the 1960s, nicknamed Idol of the Airlanes in the 1940s.

Born in 1897 in Morristown he studied the violin and became a classical violin player in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. While in military service during World War I he became the director of a military band and started a dance orchestra in the 1920s together with Milton Davis, the Garber-Davis Orchestra. From the mid 1920s he became the only leader of the band, and the it was renamed simply as Jan Garber and his Orchestra. Early 1930s it seemed that the musical taste of the people had changed and he took over the band of Freddy Large and started to play sweet music, like the Guy Lombardo Orchestra - ten a very popular band. He became very popular and when in the early 1940s everybody wanted to hear swing, he reorganized his band again and started to play in the swing style. This Jan Garber Orchestra, with Gray Rains as its arranger and Carl Ladra at the piano, was extremely popular in those war years and there are only some radio transcriptions available from this band due to the record ban. Liz Tilton and Bob Davis, now long forgotten, were the vocalists of that band. After the war, people wanted to hear sweet sounds again, so ...... you guess - no problem for Jan Garber. His band played what the pop music of those days wanted and even in the 1950s and 1960s he was still extremele popular in Las Vegas. Jan Garber died as a wealthy man, 83 years old, October 1977 and even nowadays it seems that the Jan Garber Orchestra still exists as a remembrance of this popular band leader.
Jan Garber's music is popular music, or as we would call it: pop music. Pop music is a generic term for music that is loved by the general public. Musicians like Jan Garber listened carefully to their audiences, and when their record sales diminished it became time to change sound or style. That sound of the band was very important; especially on the air - the listeners should recognize their popular band withing a few bars. Think of that typically Glenn Miller sound. Lyle Spud Murphy, saxophone player in Garber's band and arranger, started to change the arrangements late 1920s as he found the rhyhm section inept. I went a little further until I found it damn good. Until Garber said: Hey, you're changing the style of this band. I said: I hope it's for the better and he said: I don't think so. I'm out to make money. That was in New Orleans, Spud says, a few days later, in Philadelphia, we were all fired; that's when he got the cornball imitation of Lombardo. This story, which illustrates the conflicting interests, must have happened early 1930s during the depression age, when Jan Garber recorded the Hit of the Week recording Lazy Lou' siana Moon.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

This contribution was also posted, with some additions, at my Keep swinging web log.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, my name is Al. I Have the scrap book that belonged to Bob Davis; one of Jan Garber's singers. There are many articles and photos.

November 27, 2011  

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