The founder of The Funny Valentines, Hermine Gascho, succeeded in forming a vocal group that brings back to life the mellow and full sound of the swing formations of the 30s and 40s. Her arrangements, which are all in the style of the originals but still very innovative, give distinction to the unique sound of The Funny Valentines. The singers not only sing the melodies in four-part harmonies but also take over the parts of wind instruments in their arrangements:
HERMINE GASCHO on stunning trumpet
UTA OFNER on exciting alto sax
BARBARA ROBERTS on smooth trombone
ALEXANDRA FISCHER on groovy tenor sax
Hermine Gascho comes from a family who always had a song on their lips. Her love of harmony singing showed very early on. At 5 she already serenaded in two voices with her brother birthday songs on the telephone composed by her father for family and friends.
Her completed degree in music (and English) as well as her years of stage experience as a musician are the basis for her resourceful arrangements.
In addition to The Funny Valentines she maintains the Swing Favorites – Hermine’s current project. Together with her combo „Swing Substitutes“ she presents the music from the swing era. Well-known standards and wrongly forgotten songs, newly arranged in top quality.
The repertoire originates in the „Great American Songbook“, which contains the highlights of popular American music from 1920 to 1960. The Swing Favorites mainly revive the 30s and 40s. They enchant you with swinging melodies that are catchy and uplifting.
The „Swing Substitutes“ are the Munich musicians Charly Thomass (piano), Wolfgang Meiler (drums) and Eric Stevens (bass).
The human voice is also the centre of Hermine’s other career. She teaches voice and speech training at the federal school for speech therapy (Staatliche Berufsfachschule für Logopädie) and is a speech and voice therapist.
And if she doesn’t feel like singing for once, she enjoys life anyway. Best food and the adequate accompanying wine are as important to the excellent cook as swinging music.
Exciting Alto Sax
“Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast…” This Goethe quote fits perfectly for the newest Funny Valentine.
For even though the graduate biology and chemistry teacher loves her job with the kids – so much so that she soon started her own family –, she absolutely needs the highs she gets from singing.
Several choirs, ensembles and a cappella groups introduced her to interesting arrangements in different music styles. Songs sung by Manhattan Transfer reactivated her memories of her father’s great record collection that started her love of jazz. Gradually, a wish grew in her: to perform swing arrangements in a small vocal group.
Now, she has been singing and swinging with The Funny Valentines since early 2019 – and the chemistry is right!
After a few engagements with drama (children’s theater, English Drama Group, the musical “School” at Gasteig, Munich) she has decided that music is definitely the most important thing in her life.
Having grown up in the country, it all began with singing and playing traditional Bavarian parlour music, and campfire songs with the scouts/girl guides. Later she added classical choir singing, and finally – in the early 80s – she found her great passion: jazz.
Inspired by all the old Fred Astaire musical films, Billie Holiday and the “Kleine Rondell” bar in Munich, the “Bavarian with direct access to the soul of jazz” has been swinging on numerous jazz stages since 1990.
Since 2000, she has been on tour with The Funny Valentines. Her part in this group is characterized by a clear intonation, a velvety voice and a distinct feeling for swing and harmonies.
At the same time she passionately performs with her own band, which is available in different formations from duo to quintet. Here, she can best enjoy her love of soft swing and mellow tones. Mark Murphy called her a “jazz stylist” – a singer who has found her own style.
Her musical sense is also the basis for her job as a choir leader at the Munich music school Ohrwurm, for which she makes all the arrangements of songs from different genres.
Barbara Roberts & Davide Roberts “Two Sleepy People”, 2010
Barbara Roberts Quintet “Secret Love”, 2006
Barbara Roberts Trio “Alone together”, 2004
Featured artist in other CD productions:
Mario Hartmann Quintett, 1996
Tobias Hofmann: Doc Jazz, 2002
Groovy Tenor Sax
It all started with pop music. The Beatles and Elvis were the first to conquer her heart. Her musical curiosity was piqued and became the all-dominant factor in her life. During school she got to know piano and choir music from all eras.
She studied and graduated in music (in Munich), her main subject being classical music (piano) and her minor subject being jazz (piano and singing).
On stage, she feels completely at home with jazz, blues, funk and Brasilian or Latin music. Over the years, she had about 2000 performances in clubs, theatres and at festivals in Germany and abroad together with several bands (mainly with the Chicago blues band „Little Martin & the Roosters“). From 2000 to 2003 she was a member of the a cappella group „LadiesTalk“ and toured with them to Greece (to the Olympic Games in Athens) and Korea.
She composes and writes lyrics, writes songs (in English, Brasilian, Spanish) and instrumental music. Besides countless songs and piano music she has also created three song cycles for theatre plays up to now.
In 2011 she attended a circle song workshop by Bobby McFerrin in the U.S.A. In 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017 she attended the vocal master classes of the Deutsche Musikrat and let herself be inspired by members of the „Real Group“ and „New York Voices“.
Delighted to be able to sing jazz of the most swinging kind in unique arrangements with The Funny Valentines, her distinctive alto has provided upbeat bass grooves since autumn 2015 and completes the all-over sound of the group.