Jan Garber

Jan Garber was referred to as the “Idol of the Airwaves” and led a large band that represented the best of “sweet” music in the 1930s. Garber’s distinctive quavering saxophones in the reed section (sounding almost like they were sarcasm-bordering) were the band’s trademark. Although many of his recordings from the prime period are difficult to hear today, Garber produced some good music in two periods. Garber attended the University of North Carolina and, shortly after World War I, he was a violinist in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. He co-founded Garber-Davis Orchestra in 1921 with Milton Davis. The orchestra’s trumpeters were Harry Goldfield and Chelsea Quealey (who would later join Paul Whiteman). Garber and Davis parted ways in 1924. During the period 1924-1930, the Jan Garber Orchestra performed dance music and hot jazz. Garber’s group was in financial difficulties after the Great Depression. He heard the very successful Freddie Large Orchestra in 1933 and arranged to take control of the band. His sweet sound was in keeping with Guy Lombardo. His orchestra recorded many recordings for Victor from 1935 to 1935, and for Decca for seven years. Jan Garber, a 12-year-old girl, convinced him to change gears and make his orchestra a swing band in 1942. Gray Rains’ arrangements changed the orchestra’s sound. Liz Tilton sang well, but the 1942-1944 recording ban prevented the big band recording. Garber returned to his sweet sound by 1945. He worked on a minimum of a partial-time basis until the mid-’70s. His music was commercially successful, but it still pleased dancers. Allmusic

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