Concert takes audience back in musical time

By: 
Vicky McCray
Special to the News-Argus

Vocalist Beth Britton and band leader John Gemberlign ham it ups for "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

Photo by Vicky McCray

Oh, what a concert! 

Folks attending the third Judith Arts Society concert in the arts group’s 2017-2018 season were delighted they had come, the ice storm hitting the area proving only a brief snag to the day’s end. Memory of the storm will be short-lived compared to the memory created by John Gemberling’s Jazzin’ Dance Band Sunday afternoon in Hobson.

From the moment they were introduced to the time they played their final notes, the band held their audience captive.

Gemberling, band director and trumpet player extraordinaire, warned everyone from the beginning they would be going on a rollercoaster ride of music. 

He made a guessing game out of their first piece, “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones, but someone in the front row was right on with the question he put to the audience.

“Any ideas what movie that came from?” Gemberling asked.

“Austin Powers” was the reply.

The piece was first recorded in 1961, and Mike Myers began using it as the theme song for his “Austin Powers” series in 1997. 

The second song proved the “rollercoaster” statement. “My Blue Heaven” was written in 1924, a mere 37 years before “Soul Bossa Nova.”

Gemberling introduced singer Beth Britton for the third piece, “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” This song is a jazz standard published in 1944. Britton returned following Glenn Miller (1939), Duke Ellington (1940) and Leon Russell (1972) songs with a piece popularized in 1928, “Makin’ Whoopee.” 

Gemberling’s dance band is made up of 18 musicians on eight different instruments: piano, guitar, bass, drums, five saxophones, four trombones, two trumpets and a clarinet. Seventeen of the musicians, as well as vocalist Britton, made the trip to Hobson.

The second set of the concert began with the song everyone seemed to be waiting for – “In the Mood.” Britton later told one of the JAS board members the school auditorium sounded like a rock concert when the band began playing this popular big-band era song. It was a number-one hit for Glenn Miller in 1940, topping the charts for 13 straight weeks. Many years later it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

According to many concert attendees, they could have listened to the band all night long, but all good things must come to an end. After an encore, “Fine Romance,” published in 1936, band members took their leave, but many of them were heard to exclaim as they slowly packed up their instruments: “This has been a great venue!”

It seems they enjoyed the afternoon as much as their audience.

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