Listen to:

  1. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Orchestra

    In The Mood
  2. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Orchestra featuring Bonnie Eisele

    Can't Help Lovin' That Man Of Mine

Celebrate the Spirit of Jazz!

Become an Amelia Island Jazz Festival Sponsor!

DeMerle Big Band to Celebrate 27th Anniversary at Big Band Bash

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Orchestra

My Big Band, which features some of the finest Jazz musicians and Jazz Educators in the world, is thrilled to be celebrating its 27th anniversary at the Amelia Island Jazz Festival’s seventh annual Valentine’s Day BIG BAND BASH,” said Les DeMerle , the AIJF’s Artistic Director. The popular Dinner/Dance Benefit Gala will be held Saturday, February 17, 2017 from 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the Amelia Ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. “This aggregation first was formed when the band appeared at the Ritz-Carlton’s Grand Opening 27 years ago. Most of the same musicians are still performing with us and playing better than ever,” he added. The band will swing the classics by Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and many more. Veteran members of DeMerle’s Dynamic 17 piece Orchestra include distinctive vocalist Bonnie Eisele, and such accomplished players as multi-instrumentalist and UNF’s Professor Emeritus Bill Prince, Ray Charles alumnus Al Waters and Don Zentz (Director of Jazz Studies at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts), both on saxophones, former Dukes Of Dixieland leader J.B. Scott, trumpet, trombonist and arranger Clarence Hines, piano wizard Doug Matthews, bassist Dennis Marks (Arturo Sandoval), and DeMerle on drums. Through the years this group has played many worldwide gigs together—and locals will recall its strong backing of vocalist Steve March Torme at the 2011 AIJF.

We’ve prepared some new musical treats and surprises for this year’s event,” said DeMerle, “including a tribute to Benny Goodman led by our superb clarinetist Bill Prince, and a Nat King Cole tribute that will feature Doug Matthews playing and Bonnie singing some Cole classics. We’ll also pay homage to my old boss, bandleader Harry James, for whom I worked 12 years,” DeMerle said. “Come early for cocktails to meet and greet the musicians from 6:30 PM to 7 PM.” The Fernandina Beach HS Rose Saxophone Quartet will entertain arriving patrons prior to the show.

Admission includes a sumptuous gourmet dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and an exquisite silent auction organized by AIJF fundraising chairperson Lynne Ruppel that will present “very beautiful and exciting items to bid on, all donated to the Festival from businesses in our community.” One of the festival’s key sponsors, the Park West Gallery, has donated artwork for the auction as well.

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.

Click here to purchase tickets

 

 

Jazz the American Art Form

Néstor Torres and Roseanna Vitro – Headliners at the 2017 Festival

Roseanna Vitro and Nestor Torres

Venerable jazz flautist Néstor Torres and Grammy nominated vocalist Roseanna Vitro are set to headline the 2017 Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced this week by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A highly influential player with dozens of albums to his credit, Torres will appear on Saturday, October 14. He has recorded for a number of prestigious labels including Polygram, Shanachie, and Sony Latin Jazz. Inspired by musicians like Cal Tjader, Dave Brubeck, and Tito Puente, Torres’ playing incorporates a smorgasbord of Latin jazz, pop, straight-ahead jazz, and classical styles. He has played with an impressive array of jazz greats, including Jimmy Smith and Dave Grusin.

Continue …

6th Annual Big Band Bash Raises $12,000 for Charity

2017 official AIJF artist Alfred Gockel

by Park West Gallery

Park West Gallery and the Park West Foundation supported one of America’s greatest art forms during the 6th Annual Big Band Bash gala on February 12 at Amelia Island, Florida.

Continue …

DeMerle Brings World Class Musicians and Art to BIG BAND BASH

Big Band Bash at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation

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.

Continue …

Amelia Island Jazz Festival Names 2016 Scholarship Winner

Thomas Milovac

18 year old Thomas Milovac, a gifted bassist from Clermont, FL, will be honored with a college scholarship from the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced today by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A member of the Florida All State Band while attending East Ridge High School, Milovac will accept the festival’s annual award when he performs at the 2016 Amelia Island Jazz Festival, October 2-9, at various venues in Fernandina Beach. He will be introduced at a pre-festival Jazz Party featuring DeMerle’s trio, with vocalist Bonnie Eisele, at Horizon’s restaurant, August 12 and 13. He will also be sitting in with them for the opening sets prior to headliner shows with Houston Person and Bria Skonberg on October 7 and 8, in the Parish Hall at St. Michael’s Academy. Additionally, Milovac’s quintet, along with Jazz Vocalist Lisa Kelly, will host and play the Fri and Saturday night jam sessions at Arte Pizza that will follow the main concerts.

Continue …

Lebo chosen as 2016 Amelia Island Jazz Festival Artist

2016 AIJF Jazz Pass

by Park West Gallery

David Le Batard, also known as the artist Lebo, will loan his artistic talents to the 13th Annual Amelia Island Jazz Festival as its official artist.

Lebo follows Tim Yanke, who served as the official artist in 2015. Lebo will create art that is featured on posters, shirts, flyers and other materials related to the festival, held at several venues on Amelia Island in Florida from Oct. 2-9.

“Being chosen for the Amelia Island Jazz Festival is a joy for many reasons, not the least of which is how greatly music, and in particular jazz, has affected my approach at art,” Lebo says. “The mix of extreme dedication along with individual expression is a perfect one, and one that I learned from being a fan of jazz.”

Continue …

AIJF Sets HOUSTON PERSON and BRIA SKONBERG as 2016 Headliners

2016 Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Legendary tenor saxophonist Houston Person and hot young trumpeter Bria Skonberg are set to headline the 2016 Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced this week by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A highly influential player with dozens of albums to his credit, Person has recorded for a number of labels including Savoy, Mercury, Prestige Muse, and presently High Note Records. His soulful, bluesy, and thick-toned tenor style, in the tradition of the great Gene Ammons, has been particularly notable in his work with various jazz organ trios. A trumpeter/vocalist/composer, Skonberg has rapidly become a top draw in New York City, and according to the Wall Street Journal, “is poised to be one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” Both will appear on shows at the St. Michaels Academy Parrish Hall.

Continue …

Park West sponsors 5th Annual Big Band Bash

Valentine's Day Big Band Bash

by Park West

Roses and chocolates are lovely gestures, but for something extra sweet for your sweetheart, treat them to a night of dinner, dancing, music and art that benefits a good cause.

Park West Gallery was teaming up with the Amelia Island Jazz Festival to host the Big Band Bash Dinner and Dance. The fundraiser gala took place 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Amelia Ballroom in the Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Florida.

The fundraiser is held each year on Valentine’s Day, offering you and your valentine a gourmet dinner and a night of dancing to music performed by the 17-piece Dynamic Les DeMerle orchestra with vocalist Bonnie Eisele, featuring tunes by greats such as Glenn Miller, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Continue …

Tim Yanke named official artist for the Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Legends Tim Yanke

Originally published by Park West Gallery

 

Park West Gallery artist Tim Yanke of Birmingham, Michigan has been chosen to be the official artist for the 12th Annual Amelia Island Jazz Festival in Florida.

Yanke has created original artwork he will donate that will be auctioned off to benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program. The funds raised will coincide with the festival’s 4th Annual Big Band Bash gala on February 14 in the Amelia Ballroom at the OMNI Resorts Amelia Island Plantation.

Continue …

©2018 Amelia Island Jazz Festival. All Rights Reserved