Heart transplant recipient Michael Garding

Heart transplant recipient Michael Garding

Vernon Jazz Society holds concert in support of heart transplant recipient

Musicians gather at Vernon Jazz Club Feb. 27 to support saxophonist/bandleader Michael Garding.

A group of Okanagan and visiting jazz musicians are banding together to help one of their own.

The Vernon Jazz Society is holding a fundraiser in support of bandleader and saxophonist  Michael Garding, who underwent a lifesaving heart transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver this weekend.

Garding was also expected to have a kidney transplant and, as of press time, was recovering from surgery in hospital.

The evening of jazz, which will help cover Garding’s expenses, takes place Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Vernon Jazz Club.

“Michael opened up musical opportunities for me,” said Vernon Jazz Society president and bassist Brian McMahon, who is helping organize the concert. “Michael’s musical standards are very high, which meant that I really had to ramp up my playing when I joined his band in 2001. He truly is a local musical guru.”

A graduate of Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary School and Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, Garding  has played with just about every Okanagan jazz and blues-based musician.

He has conducted, composed and arranged music for his own traditional 20-piece Michael Garding Big Band, as well as for the 12-piece horn-funk band Soul Funktion.

He has led the Festival Big Band at the annual B.C. Interior Jazz Festival, and has shared the stage with the likes of Campbell Ryga, Dee Daniels and Pat LaBarbera.

The owner of a recording studio in Kelowna, Garding has also performed with Valley-based bands PHAT Betty, The Shuffle Kings, the Salmon Armenians and with other jazz projects.

In Vernon, he has performed with the Michael Garding Quintet and Groove Engine at the jazz club.

The Bob Rebagliati Trio, featuring Vancouver pianist Rebagliati, woodwinds player Saul Berson and McMahon, is scheduled to perform as host band at the fundraiser.

Joining them are North Okanagan musicians, vocalist Judy Rose, woodwinds player Doug Sonju, keyboardist Henry Piovesan and guitarists Neil Fraser​ and Paul May.

Travelling up from Kelowna are vocalist Ellen Churchill, saxophonists Larry Crawford and Marshall Rasmussen, and drummers Martin Lord and  Scott Gamble.

“The list is still growing,” said McMahon.

Doors to Saturday’s event open at 7:15 p.m., with music at 8 p.m. Admission is by donation to the Michael Garding Needs a Heart Go Fund Me account (bring a cash donation or present a receipt proving online donation). Only 140 seats are available – first come, first serve (no advance tickets or table reservations).

The Vernon Jazz Club is located at 3000-31st St., above Nolan’s Pharmasave. Visit vernonjazz.ca for more information.