Giovanna Joyce Imbesi
When you watch a movie on Netflix or Hulu, and that film opens with a sepia-tone aerial image of the Warner Brothers sound stages, you hear a piano play the key elements from the music for the film Casablanca: “As time goes by”. That piano is being played by Giovanna Joyce Imbesi. Some of us knew her as “Gio”. I was lucky enough to know (and almost get to marry) her.
Giovanna Joyce Imbesi, was an American pianist/keyboardist. She embarked on her first national tour with Yanni in 1987 to promote his album, Out of Silence, and performed during the “Yanni 1988 Concert Series” and “Reflections of Passion” concert tours. During this time she played alongside such musicians as John Tesh and Charlie Adams, and with various symphony orchestras such as the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Minneapolis Symphony. During the following years, she worked with a number of performers including Patti Labelle, Jeffrey Osborne, Sheila E., Toni Childs, Starship, Narada Michael Walden and Andy Summers with whom she toured internationally. Following another national road tour with saxophonist Dave Koz, she released her first album in 2006, Short Stories: Piano Music for Healing, Meditation and Relaxation.
In 1982, Giovanna Joyce founded Kimball’s Jazz Club in San Francisco with Joe Henderson and Joanne Brackeen as the first performance. Jazz artists performing at Kimball’s featured Stan Getz, Charlie Haden, McCoy Tyner, Earl Fatha Hines, Denny Zeitlin, Pete Escovedo and many other legendary jazz musicians. Imbesi recounts “I was playing piano during dinner and at 8pm everyone left for the opera or symphony. I suggested to owner Kimball Allen that we have some jazz and he said OK. That’s how Kimball’s Jazz began, and I was booking the artists and essentially running the marketing, sound and graphics.”
Written by Lisa Yen, NP, NBC-HWC
We recently shared the sad news of the passing of our founder, Executive Director, and dear friend, Giovanna Joyce Imbesi. It had been a challenging year for Giovanna’s physical health and she moved to Marin County this fall with hopes of enjoying many months of music, nature, and friends. Sadly, her physical condition unexpectedly and rapidly declined. Giovanna passed away peacefully in her home in Marin surrounded by an intimate circle of loved ones including our very own Lisa Yen and NorCal Carcinet founder and president Josh Mailman along with Giovanna’s sister, Donna, and a handful of longtime friends. (Click here for the LACNETS tribute.) Giovanna also felt incredibly loved and supported by the countless family and friends who were present with her in spirit.
Although we miss her dearly, Giovanna expressed her desire that we focus on how she lived richly and fully for 14 years with neuroendocrine cancer. She felt that her greatest legacy was founding and building LACNETS, a Los Angeles based non-profit dedicated to providing education, support, and advocacy for those whose lives have been touched by neuroendocrine cancer. Giovanna was especially proud of NET VITALS, a tool we created to improve the communication between patients and physicians. Her hope was to help as many people as possible learn to thrive while living with neuroendocrine cancer.
Giovanna built more than just a community; she created a family. Her wish was for us to continue celebrating life and connectedness. We welcome you to lean on each other for support by joining us at one of our LACNETS meetings. Our upcoming December 10th meeting will feature a presentation by Chaplain Michael Escelun and will include a time for remembrance of Giovanna. For those unable to attend meetings in person, they are live-streamed on the LACNETS Facebook Page. Past meetings can be viewed on the LACNETS YouTube channel. There are tentative plans for a celebration of Giovanna’s life in the Bay area in January 2020 and Los Angeles in February 2020. More details will follow. You may also leave a tribute to Giovanna in the comments section below.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send a donation to LACNETS to carry on Giovanna’s legacy.
LACNETS is a program by Generate Possibility.org, a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Tax ID #20-0062062. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Remembering Giovanna Joyce Imbesi:
“Music Heals” featuring Giovanna’s story, was created in celebration of Carcinoid Cancer Foundation’s 50th anniversary. As a consummate jazz pianist, Giovanna drew from a deep connection to soul and spirit. Her music will continue to heal many.
“Give Me Peace,” featuring Lettrice Lawrence, was composed and produced by Giovanna. This song honors those who have passed and celebrates those who are enjoying another year of life.
The Cedars-Sinai Patient Leadership Award was awarded to Giovanna at the 2019 Annual Los Angeles NET Patient Education Conference on June 8, 2019.
In the recent LACNETS blog article “Finding Joy: Making Friends with Change” Giovanna shared her personal journey of embracing change and finding joy.