The Amelia Island Jazz Festival kicked off its 13th annual edition Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM with a free concert in Amelia Park

featuring the 21 piece University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble 2, directed by Dennis Marks, to be followed by a swinging week of shows, dances, and jam sessions. Jazz saxophone legend Houston Person, who has performed with a host of stellar musicians including Don Ellis, Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton and many more, and Bria Skonberg, an innovative young trumpeter and vocalist, will headline the popular event on Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8 respectively, at St. Michael’s Parish Hall beginning at 7:00 PM. Both headliners will be coming from New York City and making their NE Florida debuts.

hustonperson_002“I’m very excited to be playing Amelia Island,” said Person, who just completed a booking at the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. A protégé of the great horn masters Illinois Jacquet and Benny Golson, Person has played on literally hundreds of recordings throughout his lengthy career, including a series of albums for Prestige Records and as a member of the Johnny Hammond band in the mid-1960’s. His latest release, “The Melody Lingers On,” is on the High Note Records label. Person is best known for his melodic style and a longtime association as bandleader and touring partner with vocalist Etta Jones. In 2016 he teamed up with the brilliant bassist Ron Carter for the duo album, “Chemistry.” “It’s going to be great fun playing with Les and the guys,” he said, “and I know the chemistry will be just right!”

A self-described “small town girl” from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Skonberg has been heralded by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” Growing up in a family that always loved music, she studied piano early on and played in a band with her “old time fiddle playing brother.” She picked up the trumpet in the seventh grade and was inspired by the hot musicianship of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet and the vocal stylings of Billie Holiday and Anita O’Day. Nevertheless, as a musician on the rise she performed with a number of bands in a variety of genres. “Blues, country, rock and roll, you name it. I feel it’s important to know as much as possible about all kinds of music.” Skonberg’s third album, “Bria” was released on September 23 on Sony’s Okeh label. “I’m so excited that my album is out on Okeh, which originally released Louis Armstrong’s influential Hot Fives and Sevens records,” she said.

AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle, whose Amelia Island Jazz Festival All Stars, with gifted vocalist Bonnie Eisele, will open the headliner shows, is particularly excited about this year’s lineup. “We’ll have two dance oriented shows at Sandy Bottoms: Wednesday’s Jump Jive & Wail, a tribute to classic dance oriented swing music with my Little Big Band, and Thurday’s Latin Jazz Night that will showcase the sizzling hot, award winning, and internationally famous Trio Caliente and their inimitable blend of Flamenco, Pop, and Brazilian Jazz. Definitely bring your dancing shoes!” Additionally, the always entertaining and fun late night Jazz Jams, hosted by Jazz Vocalist Lisa Kelly, and featuring the AIJF’s 2016 musicians, will follow the headliner sets on October 7 and 8 in “Dizzy’s Den” at Arte’s Pizza. The festival is scheduled to end on a swinging note Sunday, October 9, with a Dixie to Swing Jazz Brunch at the Florida House Inn, featuring DeMerle’s Spare Rib Six with trumpeter J.B. Scott, Bill Prince, clarinet, Dave Steinmeyer, trombone, Mike Levine, piano, bassist Dennis Marks and Bonnie Eisele, vocals.

In addition to online, tickets may be purchased at the UPS Store, 1417 Sadler Road, in the Island Shopping Center, or at the AIFBY Chamber Of Commerce, Gateway to Amelia, A1A and Amelia Parkway. A not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Les DeMerle Amelia Island Jazz Festival, distributes proceeds toward a scholarship program to fund college educations for aspiring jazz musicians. For more information, please contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772. Or visit the website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com
Email address: info@ameliaislandjazzfestival.com

COMPLETE 2016 AMELIA ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Sunday, October 2
JAZZ IN THE PARK
Amelia Park. 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Free concert with the 21 piece UNF Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dennis Marks. BBQ available from Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen.

Monday, October 3
JAZZ FESTIVAL SPONSOR PARTY
Horizon’s Gourmet Restaurant. 7:00 – 10:00 PM
With the Les Demerle Jazz All-Stars featuring Bonnie Eisele.
By invitation only.

Wednesday, October 5
JUMP, JIVE & WAIL
Swingin’ Dance and Show
Featuring The Dynamic Les DeMerle 8-piece Little Big Band with vocalist Bonnie Eisele
Sandy Bottoms, 7:00 – 10:00 pm

Thursday, October 6
LATIN JAZZ CONCERT AND DANCE
Featuring Trio Caliente,
Washington D.C. award winning Latin Band Plus Special Guests
Sandy Bottoms, 7:00 – 10:00 pm

Friday, October 7
HOUSTON PERSON, JAZZ SAXOHONE LEGEND IN CONCERT
Plus the Amelia Island Jazz Festival All Stars
7:00 – 10:00 PM
St Michael Parish Hall, 505 Broome Street
A ticket also includes admission to Late Night Jam Session

Bria_Skonberg_2_credit_Tom_Concordia
Bria Skonberg
Saturday, October 8
BRIA SKONBERG, JAZZ TRUMPETER AND VOCALIST EXTRAORDINAIRE IN CONCERT
Plus the Amelia Island Jazz Festival All Stars
7:00 – 10:00 PM
St Michael Parish Hall, 505 Broome Street
A ticket also includes admission to Late Night Jam Session

Friday/Saturday, October 7-8
LATE NIGHT JAM AT DIZZY’S DEN
10:30 PM ‘til
Bebop, Blues and Beyond
Hosted by Jazz Vocalist Lisa Kelly
And featuring AIJF AIJF Scholarship winner, Thomas Milovac and his quintet, plus special guests.
Arte Pizza
109 North 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach.

Sunday, October 9
DIXIE TO SWING JAZZ BRUNCH.
Featuring Les DeMerle’s Spare Rib Six Dixieland Band with Bonnie Eisele, trumpeter J.B. Scott, Bill Prince, clarinet, Clarence Hines, trombone, Mike Levine, piano, bassist Dennis Marks, and Bonnie Eisele, vocals.
First Seating: 11:00 AM – 12:30 pm
Second Seating: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Florida House Inn
22 South 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach.