Joy of Music Grad Returns to Repay the Support That Got Him to Juilliard

In Music Stories, Program Notes by Matthew Everettleave a COMMENT

It was Huey Lewis, of all people, who turned Taber Gable on to jazz. Specifically, it was saxophonist Stan Getz, who appeared on Lewis’ 1988 album, A Small World. But Gable’s taste might have run in an entirely different direction if he hadn’t been checking out Huey Lewis CDs from his dad’s collection.

“Stan Getz plays a solo on one of those songs. I was like, who’s Stan Getz?” Gable says. “I started doing my homework and found out who he was and then I went back and started getting into bossa nova and finding out who Astrud Gilberto and Carlos Jobim were.”

Gable had been playing piano for several years at that point, but his introduction to jazz intensified his interest in music. The lessons he wanted, though, proved to be just out of his family’s reach. “I wanted lessons from the best, and they were a little more expensive than I imagined,” he says. So Gable and his family turned to the Joy of Music School, a local nonprofit that provides free music instruction to children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. Through the school, Gable studied under Donald Brown, the reigning king of Knoxville jazz piano, and later with saxophonist Jerry Coker. (In his spare time, he also took instruction from guitarist Mark Boling at the University of Tennessee.)

After graduating from West High School, Gable attended the University of Hartford on a music scholarship. And now he’s just finished his first year at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York in the Juilliard Jazz Studies program. It’s a rigorous two-year program overseen by Wynton Marsalis that combines classwork and performance; Gable is the first graduate of the Joy of Music to make it to Juilliard.

Next week, he’ll give back to his old school by performing with a brand-new quartet at a fundraising concert for the Joy of Music School. Gable and three of his frequent collaborators, all classmates from Hartford and Juilliard, will headline the Juilliard Jazz for Joy show on Thursday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Emporium Center on the 100 block of Gay Street. Tickets are $25-$125; all proceeds benefit the school.

“I just wanted to say thank you to everybody,” Gable says. “I want to have an umbrella and put everybody I could under it and say thank you for the support—financial support, spiritual support, prayers, whatever.”

Senior Editor Matthew Everett manages the Knoxville Mercury's arts & entertainment section, including the comprehensive calendar section—Knoxville’s go-to guide for everything worth doing in the area. You can reach Matthew at

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