Looking forward to October 2017

The 2016 Amelia Island Jazz Festival was the best ever!!!

A big THANK YOU to all of our sponsors and volunteers for their support and very hard work. Also, big thanks to our 2016 headlining artists Bria Skonberg and Houston Person for adapting to the new festival dates and their incredible performances that drew standing ovations. Not to forget the Trio Caliente, the UNF 2 Jazz Ensemble directed by Dennis Marks, Lisa Kelly, J.B. Scott and all of the AIJF musicians for their hard work and dedication to the Amelia Island Jazz Festival.

Very special thanks to my wife Bonnie Eisele for her support and her vocal artistry. Indeed, all this made my Birthday the best one ever!

Lastly, even though a bit challenging at first, thank you to Hurricane Matthew, not only for sparing the island and only causing minimal damages but because of you we got double exposure and came out a winner.

Love y'all madly
  Les DeMerle,
Artistic Director
Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Big Band Bash Sampler

Les DeMerle on WJXT4

Celebrate the Spirit of Jazz!

Become an Amelia Island Jazz Festival Sponsor!

Néstor Torres and Reseanna 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.

Vitro, who will perform on Friday, October 13, earned a 2012 Grammy Nomination for “Best Vocal Jazz Album,” The Music of Randy Newman, on Motéma Music. An inventive singer, her strengths include rhythmic acuity and free-spirited spontaneity, often heard in her improvisations, using both scat syllables and lyrics. Additionally, she has released twelve critically acclaimed recordings for Motéma, Telarc, Concord, Challenge and Half Note Records and has performed with a strong sampling of today’s top jazz artists, most notably Elvin Jones and Christian McBride. She has also headlined at prestigious jazz venues such as The Blue Note and Lincoln Center in New York, and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Both artists will appear on programs at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on Bill Melton Road.

Now in its 14th year, the AIJF will take place at various locations in Fernandina Beach, FL from October 8-15, 2017, beginning with its annual free concert in Amelia Park on Sunday, October 8. Additional shows will be announced soon. Tickets will be available online, the AIFBY Chamber of Commerce and teh UPS Store on Amelia Island starting July. Check back for more information.

 

 

 

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.

Les DeMerle at the Big Band Bash

Les DeMerle with music students at the 2017 Big Band Bash

The jazz fundraiser collected $12,000 during its silent and live auctions. Proceeds generated from the auctions and ticket sales will go to the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Awards program. The festival provides funds to high school students seeking a major or minor in music as well as programs for children and senior citizens in Northern Florida.

Park West Gallery donated art to be auctioned, while the gallery’s non-profit Park West Foundation provided financial contributions.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AIJF Names 2015 Scholarship Winner

Ryan Duncan - 2015 AIJF Scholarship Winner

18 year old Ryan Duncan, a gifted saxophonist from Jacksonville, will be honored with a college scholarship from the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced today by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A four year member of the Florida All State Band while attending Douglas Anderson School Of The Arts, Duncan will accept the festival’s annual award during a special “All That Jazz” concert/show on September 20, 7:00 – 10:00 PM, at the Amelia Community Theatre at which he will also perform with the Dynamic Les DeMerle Band featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele. For his university training, Duncan plans on joining the highly regarded music program at the University of North Texas.

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DeMerles return and gear up for Big Band Bash Gala Dinner/Dance on Valentine’s Day

AIJF Big Band Bash 2014

Amelia Island Jazz Festival Artistic Director Les DeMerle and his wife, vocalist Bonnie Eisele, return to the Island this week from a three month sojourn cruising Australia and New Zealand. They’re more than warmed up after performing nightly on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship and thus eager to swing at the 4th annual BIG BAND BASH Benefit Gala, which will take place Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14 at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation , in the Amelia Ballroom. The popular Dinner/Dance will present The Dynamic Les DeMerle 17 piece Orchestra, featuring Eisele and special guests, in a salute to America’s legendary big bands.

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