Jan Garber

1944 Swing Band, Vol. 1

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Throughout most of his career, Jan Garber led sweet bands with quavering saxophones that were a competitor to Guy Lombardo. However, from 1942-45, he gave in to the pleas of his 12-year-old daughter (who was a bit embarrassed by the music he featured) and re-formed his orchestra as a swinging big band. Few commercial recordings were made of that unit, but in February 1944, they recorded noncommercial transcriptions for radio airplay, 16 of which are included on this 1998 CD. Unfortunately, the personnel is largely unknown but thanks to some Sy Oliver arrangements (including "Swanee River," and which is the same chart used by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; "Blues No More," and "So What") and a few good soloists (particularly on tenor, trumpet and electric guitar), the Garber sound of old is completely absent on these selections. There are some vocals from Bob Davis, who can be a bit overbearing, and Liz Tilton, the younger sister of Martha Tilton and actually a better singer, but nearly ever selection has a strong solo or two. Other highlights include "San Fernando Valley," "Apache Dance" and Alec Wilder's "I'll Be Around." One can understand why the Jan Garber swing band did not make it, though. Although an excellent outfit, the orchestra did not form its own personality, and the Musicians Union strike kept most listeners from knowing that Garber had switched directions. As it turned out, the switch was temporary, and by 1945 Jan Garber had returned to his brand of schlocky but popular sweet dance music.