by Michael Rothschild
“My Big Band features some of the finest Jazz musicians and Jazz Educators in the world”, said Les DeMerle in advance of the Amelia Island Jazz Festival’s sixth annual BIG BAND BASH, “Salute to the Bands”, to be held Sunday, February 12, 2017 from 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the Amelia Ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. “Our exciting program is geared to get you out on the dance floor and keep you there all night long,” he added. The band will perform classics by Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and many more. The popular Dinner/Dance Benefit Gala will present DeMerle’s Dynamic 17 piece Orchestra, plus vocalist Bonnie Eisele and such accomplished players as saxophonists Bill Prince and Al Waters, trumpeters Tommy Osborne and Steve Strawley, pianist Doug Mathews, bassist Dennis Marks, and DeMerle on drums. “We’ll also be doing a special tribute to my old boss, bandleader Harry James, for whom I worked from 1970 to 1983, and his vocalist Lynn Roberts who passed away last Sunday,” DeMerle said. “Come early for cocktails to meet and greet the musicians from 6:30 PM to 7 PM.”
Enjoy a sumptuous gourmet dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and take part in an exquisite silent auction organized by AIJF fundraising chairperson Lynne Ruppel that will feature “very beautiful and exciting items to bid on, all donated to the festival from businesses in our community.”
Additionally, in conjunction with the festival’s association with one of its key sponsors, the Park West Gallery, DeMerle announced that world famous artist Alfred Gockel has been named the official 2017 AIJF Jazz Artist, and his work will be on display at the event. A native of Germany, Gockel has been inspired by many of the greats, including Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso. Gockel has become one of the most prolific distributors of modern art lithographs and serigraphs in the world.
The AIFJ’s BIG BAND BASH, is the festival’s primary fundraiser in support of its Scholarship Awards program. “We now have several scholars in colleges all over the country,” said DeMerle, “and our goal is to keep this critical American art form alive in North Florida. To quote Wynton Marsalis: ‘The Amelia Island Jazz Festival is the real deal because it entertains and educates at the highest level. Keep up your great presentations and keep swingin’!”
Tickets for the Big Band Bash are priced at $90 per person, and the proceeds will benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program. Tickets can be purchased online. (more…)
Tickets are also sold at The UPS Store, 1417 Sadler Road, in the Island Walk Shopping Center, 1417 Sadler Road in Fernandina Beach, or at the AIFBY Chamber Of Commerce, Gateway to Amelia, 961687 Gateway Blvd. Suite 101G, Amelia Island, Florida.