Swinging saxophonist and band leader Michael Garding heats up the jazz scene with the Michael Garding Quintet’s showcase of stylish standards at the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.
Joining alto saxophonist Garding is Candice Deacoff on vocals, Neville Bowman on keys and vocals, Brian McMahon on bass, and Lonnie Burma on drums.
The evening features mostly vocal jazz standards ranging from Frank Sinatra to Diana Krall to Jane Monheit, with a few instrumentals and vocal originals thrown in.
Garding is known for his exceptional tone quality, smooth stylings, and imaginative improvisation.
“My style has been described as lyrical and melodic,” said Garding. “I am heavily influenced by Phil Woods, PJ Perry, David Sanborn, and Grover Washington Jr.”
A graduate of Winfield’s George Elliot Secondary School, Garding went on to study music performance at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton.
“My interest in jazz seemed to naturally evolve,” recalled Garding. “A jazz band seemed more hip than a concert band and my teacher Derek Turvey was very supportive of me and my little combo.”
Garding is renowned for The Michael Garding Big Band, a traditional 20-piece big band in which Garding conducts, composes, and arranges original material.
“I like to do my own arrangements of other people’s material whenever possible. Usually, I’ll sit down, say I’m going to do an arrangement, and then I don’t stop until it’s done,” said Garding.
Garding leads the Festival Big Band at the annual B.C. Interior Jazz Festival, sharing the stage with musicians like Campbell Ryga, Dee Daniels, and Pat LaBarbera. He also has his own recording studio.
Garding is looking forward to returning to the VJC.
“It’s always a pleasure playing to an audience that come to listen,” explained Garding. “Vernon always has a very appreciative crowd, often containing many other musicians.”
A young singer from Westbank, Deacoff’s interest in jazz was sparked at16, listening to recordings by artists like Krall and Monheit. Since then, she has performed with many of the valley’s talented jazz musicians in venues like the Kelowna Art Gallery and Two Eagles golf course.
Deacoff has also lent backup vocals to some projects at Michael Garding Studios.
Versatile pianist Bowman gigs throughout the valley at nightspots such as Ricardo’s and the Capri Lounge. He recently performed in the Kelowna Actors Studio’s A Streetcar Named Desire and is hard at work on a recording with Bernie Addington, Scott Gamble, and Craig Thomson.
Bassist McMahon owes his jazz leanings to seeing Moe Koffman perform at Fulton Secondary School when McMahon was in Grade 9.
When not leading the band and choir at Kalamalka Secondary, McMahon enjoys gigging in Kelowna with the band and performing locally at Squires Four Pub’s jazz nights.
Raised in the country-and-gospel-steeped Burma Family Band, drummer Burma has been playing music since childhood. He has performed with notable musician like Tommy Banks, Ross Taggert, and Phil Nimmons.
Burma also teaches percussion at his Kelowna studio, providing workshops and equipment repairs for various school districts and performing in church and theatre productions.
The Michael Garding Quintet takes the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club, 3000-31st St., Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($15 for VJS members) at the Bean Scene and Bean to Cup coffee houses.
–– Freelance writer Dvoira Yanovsky writes about the Vernon Jazz Society’s concert season for The Morning Star.