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Amelia Island Jazz Festival Names 216 Scholarship Winner

 Amelia Island Jazz Festival Names 216 Scholarship Winner18 year old Thomas Milovac, a gifted bassist from Clermont, Florida, 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. Milovac 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 Friday and Saturday night jam sessions at Arte Pizza that will follow the main concerts.

“This kid is the real deal,” said DeMerle, “and we are positive that Thomas will do very well in the jazz world that awaits him. I very much look forward to performing with him during the festival.” For his undergraduate university training, Milovac plans on joining the highly regarded music program at the University of North Florida. He also hopes to attain a master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music following his work at UNF.

Proficient on both acoustic and electric basses, Milovac began studying music at age 11 and boasts a wide range of influences. “I’ve listened a lot to Charles Mingus, Ray Brown and Jimmy Blanton,” he said, “but I’m also into more modern bass styles by Christian McBride and Jaco Pastorius.” However his interests go way beyond the jazz greats. “I really enjoy delta blues, classical music, and even some New York punk,” he added, “and I incorporate some of those sounds into my playing.” Presently Milovac leads East Ridge High School’s first ever jazz combo and in the process he has become adept at running a band and writing arrangements. “After school I definitely want to hit the road, do some recording and make my mark as a jazz musician,” he said.

Now in its 13th year, the AIJF will take place at several locations in Fernandina Beach, Florida, from October 2-9, and will kick off with its annual free concert in Amelia Park on Sunday, October 2, with the 21 piece UNF Jazz Ensemble. Additional shows will include a Wednesday October 5 swing night, Jump Jive and Wail, that will feature The Dynamic Les DeMerle Little Big Band at Sandy Bottoms, a Latin Jazz Night October 6 with the sizzling hot, award winning, and internationally famous Trio Caliente, also at Sandy Bottoms and a Dixie to Swing Jazz Brunch at the Florida House Inn featuring the Spare Rib Six Dixieland Band with JB Scott on trumpet. For a full schedule and ticket information, please go to www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com. or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772.

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 its scholarship program to fund college educations for aspiring jazz musicians.

Valentine Day 2016 Sinatra Celebration

Jazzfest

Sinatra Celebration for Valentine Day

Amelia Island Jazz Festival will celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 100 Year Birthday with a Big Band Bash on Valentine Day in 2016. This fifth annual BIG BAND BASH will be held on Sunday February 14 from 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the Amelia Ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation.

The popular Dinner/Dance Benefit Gala will present The Dynamic Les DeMerle 17 piece Orchestra, featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele and a special tribute, celebrating Sinatra, in honor of Frank’s 100th birthday last December 12.  WJXT-TV personality Sam Kouvaris, a Sinatra aficionado, will also be on hand to croon many of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ best known songs.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the music will showcase romantic tunes while paying homage to greats like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Harry James, with whom DeMerle played drums for several years.

Francis Albert Frank Sinatra was born Dec. 12, 1915 in Hoboken New Jersey, overlooking the then starting skyline of New York on the other side of the Hudson River. A blue collar immigrant town, a stone’s throw away from Ellis Island at the time of Frank’s birth, the Mile Square City these days is an upscale center of shops and condominiums, with many a park and street named after its most famous resident.

A Meet And Greet the Musicians cocktail party is set to begin at 6:30 PM . Suggested dress is Smart Casual/Elegant. Tickets for the Big Band Bash are priced at $90 per person and the proceeds will benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program.

For online ticket purchases and further information, please visit the festival website, or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772 or email
Tickets can also 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.

AI Jazz Festival Names Scholarship Winner

Les deMerle with talented Ryan Duncan

Les DeMerle with talented Ryan Duncan

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.

“We could not be happier with this choice,” said DeMerle, “and we have no doubt that Ryan will make a strong name for himself in the jazz world ahead.” Although primarily an alto saxophonist, Duncan has proven to be equally proficient at tenor and baritone sax as well. He first began to play alto while at Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville and continued through Lavilla Middle School prior to entering Douglas Anderson. Given guidance from his older brother Howard, Duncan has been greatly influenced by such alto sax icons as Charlie Parker, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, and Cannonball Adderley. Notable trumpeters have also made their mark. “I’ve listened to and learned a lot from Clifford Brown and Nat Adderley records too,” he said. After undergraduate work at UNT, where he hopes to add Composition to his skills, Duncan plans to attend graduate school. “Currently, I am interested in playing professionally in a military band or teaching saxophone at the university level,” he added.

“All That Jazz” in September will offer a unique concert for area jazz enthusiasts. “For the first time, Bonnie and I will be presenting a show that is primarily derived from our cruise ship performances,” said DeMerle. Having recently returned home from several months of cruise contracts, most recently on the Oceana Riviera, where they visited European ports such as Monte Carlo and Portofino, DeMerle said that the band is in top shape musically and they look forward to a night of well-paced music, comedy, and ultimately lots of fun. “The ACT is a terrific facility and it will give us the opportunity to create a dazzling program similar to what you might see on Broadway or in Las Vegas,” he said. Along with Eisele the show will feature DeMerle on drums, Steve Strawley-trumpet, Don Zentz-sax and flute, Clarence Hines-trombone, Doug Matthews-piano, Ernie Ealum-bass, and Sammy Rodriguez-percussion.

2015 Performance Program

Now in its 12th year, the AIJF will take place at various locations in Fernandina Beach, FL from October 4-11, and will kick off with its annual free concert in Amelia Park on Sunday, October 4, with U.S. Navy Band Southeast TGIF. It will continue October 7 with Jump Jive & Wail, a tribute to classic dance oriented swing music featuring the Dynamic Les DeMerle Little Big Band and spirited vocalist Eisele, a Latin Jazz Night October 8 that will showcase the sizzling hot, award winning, and internationally famous Trio Caliente, both at Sandy Bottoms. 2015 headliners will be guitar legend Larry Coryell, October 9 and jazz vocalist extraordinaire Kevin Mahogany, October 10 at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. Additionally, the always popular late night jazz jams with AIJF’s 2015 musicians will follow the headliner sets on October 9 and 10 in the Omni’s Verandah Restaurant at Racquet Park. The festival will end on a swinging note Sunday, October 11, with a Dixie to Swing Jazz Brunch, featuring former Ray Charles saxophonist, Al Waters with DeMerle’s Jazztet at David’s Restaurant.

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 its scholarship program to fund college educations for aspiring jazz musicians. For more information, schedules, and tickets, please visit the website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772. Email address: info@ameliaislandjazzfestival.com

DeMerle’s 17-Piece Orchestra Plays 2015 Big Band Bash

DeMerle's 17-Piece Orchestra Plays 2015 Big Band BashThe Amelia Island Jazz Festival is thrilled to present its fourth annual Big Band Bash Benefit Gala – Dinner/Dance, to be held on Valentine’s Day Saturday, February 14, 2015 from 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation, Florida.

The popular Benefit Gala Dinner/Dance will feature The Dynamic Les DeMerle 17-piece Orchestra, with vocalist Bonnie Eisele and special guests,

Enjoy a sumptuous gourmet dinner and dance with your sweetheart to Big Band classics featuring tunes by greats like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Harry James, with whom Les DeMerle played drums for several years.

Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase your tickets as the Valentine’s day Big Band Bash promises to sell out fast!

Plan to come early to meet and greet the musicians from 6:30 PM to 7 PM. Also check out the auction items, among them Jazz Art by the prestigious Park West Gallery.

Tickets for the Big Band Bash are priced at $85.00 per person, and the proceeds will benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program.

For further information contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772.

Tickets are available at:
The UPS Store – Island Walk Shopping Center (1417 Sadler Road)

AIFBY Chamber of Commerce – Gateway to Amelia (961687 Gateway Blvd. Suite 101G)

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2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival Schedule

2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival Schedule

Click to enlarge poster

We thought you’d like an easy to read schedule for the concerts associated with the 2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival:

Sunday, October 12, 2-4 PM

JAZZ IN THE PARK
Free Concert at Amelia Park
on Park Street near the YMCA
(between 14th St. and Citrona – Fernandina Beach, FL)
Featuring: The exciting US Navy Band Southeast
Bring your lawn chairs and blankets.
Food and Beverage available by Sonny’s BBQ

Monday, October 13, 7-10 PM

AI JAZZ FESTIVAL SPONSOR PARTY
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort-Heron Room at Racquet Park
Featuring Les DeMerle Jazz All-Stars with Bonnie Eisele
plus special guest, 2014 AIJF Scholarship Winner-
18 year-old saxophonist, Luke Stribling
By invitation only for Bronze Sponsors and above

Thursday, October 16, 7-10 PM

LATIN JAZZ CONCERT/DANCE AND WINE TASTING
Sandy Bottoms Beach Bar & Grill
2910 Atlantic Avenue * Fernandina Beach, FL – Main Beach
Featuring: El Niño and the Latin Jazz Knights
Hot Latin Jazz Band from Tampa, FL
Tickets: $35 per person Concert and Wine Tasting
(AIJF Wine Tasting courtesy of Southern Wine and Spirits. Food Available.)

Friday, October 17

AMELIA ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Jazz Village and Pavilion at Racquet Park
Gates Open – 5 pm
Snacks & Beverages Available

6 pm to 7 pm
Jazz at 6 – Birdland Jazz Stage
Featuring 2014 AIJF Scholarship Winner, Luke Stribling-Alto Sax
with the Next Generation Jazz Band

7 pm to 8 pm
Headlining Concert
The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band featuring Bonnie Eisele with
Mike Levine-Piano, Dennis Marks-Bass
and introducing Sax Virtuoso, Hunter Diamond

Special Added Attraction – Bebop/Latin Jazz Explosion: El Niño and the Latin Jazz Nights and the Les DeMerle Band jam together

8:30 pm to 10 pm
Headlining Concert
Tony Monaco – Incredible Jazz Organist, 2014 Downbeat Poll Winner
and his All-Star Smokin’ Jazz Quartet

10:30 pm ’til…
Late Night Jam – “Dizzy’s Den”
At Racquet Park In The Heron Room
Bebop, Blues and Beyond
Hosted by vocalist, Jilla Webb
Featuring the Musicians of the 2014 AIJF

Saturday, October 18

AMELIA ISLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Jazz Village and Pavilion at Racquet Park

Gates Open – 5 pm
Snacks & Beverages Available

6 pm to 7 pm
Jazz at Six – Birdland Jazz Stage
Featuring 2013 Scholarship winner, Richard Roberts-Trumpet
plus 2014 AIJF Scholarship winner, Luke Stribling – Sax
and the Next Generation Jazz Band

7 pm to 8 pm
Headlining Concert
Horace Silver Celebration
Featuring Les DeMerle-Drums, Bonnie Eisele-Vocals, Mike Levine-Piano, Dennis Marks-Bass, Hunter Diamond-Sax, James Hogan-Guitar and Steve Strawley-Trumpet

8:30 pm – 10 pm
Headlining Concert
Randy Brecker
Grammy Award-Winning Trumpet Master
With a Tribute to the Brecker Brothers Band

10:30 pm ’til…
Late Night Jam – “Dizzy’s Den”
At Racquet Park In The Heron Room
Bebop, Blues and Beyond
Hosted by vocalist, Jilla Webb
Featuring the Musicians of the 2014 AIJF

Sunday, October 19

DIXIE TO SWING JAZZ BRUNCH
David’s Restaurant & Lounge
(804 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, FL)

Two Seatings: 11 am and 1 pm
Featuring: The AIJF All-Star Swingtet
With Special Guest, Bill Prince – Trumpet, Sax, Clarinet and Flute
Mike Levine – Piano, Dennis Marks – Bass,
Les DeMerle – Drums and Bonnie Eisele – Vocals
(Includes Special Jazz Festival Menu plus complimentary glass of champagne-Cash bar available)

Festival Admission Prices:
Thurs. $35
Friday: $40 and $60, VIP /$100 includes Jam Sessions
Saturday: $40 and $60, VIP /$100 includes Jam Session
Jam Session entry without headlining ticket, $20
Sunday Brunch: $60

Jazz Pass:
General Admission: $35, $40, $40, $60 = $175
Jazz Pass – 10% off = $158

VIP$35, $60, $60, $60 = $215
Jazz Pass – 10% off = $195

Premier $35, $100, $100, $60 = $295
Jazz Pass – 10% off = $265

Tickets and further information at www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com

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DeMerles Hit the Ground Running

DeMerles Hit the Ground RunningPress Release by Dickie Anderson

Having just returned from fulfilling a lengthy cruise contract in the Baltic Sea, Amelia Island Jazz Festival Artistic Director Les DeMerle and his wife, vocalist Bonnie Eisele, dispensed with any vacation days and plunged into their annual Jazz In The Schools program in advance of the 2014 festival, which begins this Sunday with a free concert in Amelia Park. “We love going out and educating students of all ages about jazz, the truest American art form,” said DeMerle, who with Eisele will be making stops this week at, among others, the Yulee Middle School and the Fernandina Beach High and Middle Schools. After spending several months visiting ports as varied as Warnemunde, Germany, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Copenhagen, Denmark, they are more than ready to put the island on jazz time. “It’s a terrific experience playing for folks from all over the world,” he said, “but getting back to our home and preparing for the festival is really the special highlight of every year for us.”

The festival starts with its traditional Amelia Park concert Sunday featuring the highly regarded crack TGIF US Navy Band Southeast from 2-4PM. “Bring your lawn chairs and blankets,” DeMerle added, “and we’ll also have food and beverages available from Sonny’s BBQ.” Thursday, October 16, the AIJF will continue with its popular Latin Jazz Concert and Dance, featuring the exciting rhythms of El Niño and the Latin Jazz Knights, plus a wine tasting, from 7-10 PM at Sandy Bottoms.

Critically acclaimed monster jazz organ player Tony Monaco and trumpeter/composer Randy Brecker, a multiple Grammy Awards winner, are set to headline the Festival on October 17 and 18 respectively at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort Jazz Village and Pavilion in Racquet Park beginning at 7PM each night. Both are enthusiastic about appearing on Amelia Island for the first time.

“I can’t wait to play in Fernandina Beach,” said Monaco. “This will be so exciting, especially with jazz luminaries like Randy Brecker and Les DeMerle. Man, it is going to be one special weekend of great swingin’ music, and I’m going to pull out all the stops and wail.”

“I heard from my dear friend David Sanborn that this festival is the real deal because the focus is jazz, and the setting on Amelia Island is beautiful,” said Brecker from his home in Manhattan. “I have also known Les DeMerle for over 30 years! We played together in his groundbreaking New York band, Sound 67, and I know the fireworks are going to fly. The weekend will be incredible, and I also look forward to performing a tribute during our set to my late brother Michael which will be dedicated to the Brecker Brothers Band.”

Prior to the headliner shows on October 17 and 18, the festival will present this year’s AIJF Scholarship winner, saxophonist Luke Stribling, and the Next Generation Jazz Band on the outdoor stage at the Omni beginning at 6PM. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band, with dazzling vocalist Eisele and hot young saxophonist Hunter Diamond, will warm up each headliner show with high-energy sets. Accomplished and sultry singer Jilla Webb, Jr. will host the traditionally fun late night Jazz Jams, featuring the AIJF’s 2014 musicians, in the Omni’s Heron Room at the Racquet Park following the headliner sets on October 17 and 18.

The festival will end on a swinging note Sunday, October 19, with a Dixie To Swing Jazz Brunch, featuring drummer DeMerle’s Amelia Island Jazz Festival All-Stars, which includes Eisele, the highly talented Dr. Bill Prince, trumpet, sax, clarinet and flute, plus stalwarts Mike Levine on piano, and Dennis Marks, bass, at David’s Restaurant. There will be two seatings at 11 am and 1 pm.

For more information, please visit the website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com, or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772.

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.

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Artist of the Grammys to Appear at AI Jazz Festival

Marcus Glenn, oficial artist of the 2014 Grammy Awards is set to Appear at Amelia Island's Jazz FestivalHighly regarded artist Marcus Glenn, whose original work is featured on this year’s Amelia Island Jazz Festival poster, will be attending the festival on October 17 and 18. An in demand painter who served as the official artist for the 2014 Grammy Awards, Glenn will be here to enjoy some great music and personally sign posters during the headliner evenings at the Omni Amelia Island Resort.

“Marcus is a super star in the world of art,” said the AIJF’s Artistic Director Les DeMerle, “and we are thrilled he will be joining us for an exciting weekend of superb jazz.”

Glenn exhibits much of his work through the Park West Gallery, a sponsor of the 2014 AIJF. His original piece used on the poster depicts a jazz quartet with DeMerle on drums and a self-portrait of Glenn playing the saxophone.marcus Glenn grammy artistThe Park West’s Director, Morris Shapiro, will also be on hand along with a special group of the Gallery’s clients. An accomplished drummer, Shapiro plans to sit in at the late night Jam Sessions on 10/17 and 10/18.

The Amelia Island Jazz Festival will run from October 16-19 throughout Fernandina Beach. Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker, a multiple Grammy Awards winner, and monster jazz organ player Tony Monaco are set to headline along with the Dynamic Les DeMerle Band, featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele, El Niño and the Latin Jazz Knights, and many others.

For more information, please visit the website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772.

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Jazz at the Farmers Market in Fernandina

Jazz at the Farmers Market in FernandinaThe Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market dishes up local music throughout the year and on October 4th we are having a Celebration of Jazz!

Shop in the crisp, October air to a selection of prerecorded music featuring the artists performing in the 2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival. Visit with the growers and producers that work hard preparing their fresh and tasty treats for the Market Place, while jazz music sets the ambiance.

Returning for fall is Mina’s Bakery. Mina, who is from Sarajevo, Bosnia, specializes in Mediterranean and Eastern European desserts, tortes, cakes, pastries and cookies. Everything she makes is from scratch. European cakes are not too heavy, nor are they overly sweet and many of the recipes she uses have been passed on to her in really old notebooks.

All About U.S. is returning this week with wild Sockeye salmon, Alaska weathervane scallops and smoked salmon. Unlike genetically modified farmed salmon, you will find no antibiotics, high levels of PCBs, added pigment or growth hormones in their Sockeye fillets. They are wild, all natural and pure.

jazz-at-the-farmers-market-amelia-islandJay’s Marketplace brings a delicious olive salad, and their olive juice is perfect for your next “Dirty Martini”. Stop by their booth for a variety of great recipes, but their olive salad is intended to help you make the world’s best Muffuletta sandwich.

Volunteers from the Amelia Island Jazz Festival will be on hand to tell you about all of the different concerts taking place on Amelia Island between the 16th and 19th of October, as well as the free concert in the park on October 12th. Jazz Greats and Founders of the Festival Les DeMerle and Bonnie Eisele will be making a special appearance at the Market Place to tell you more about their scholarship program that helps fund college education for aspiring jazz musicians.

We invite you to join us in historic, downtown Fernandina Beach for what is likely, Florida’s friendliest farmers market, and introduce yourself to any of our vendors who have become “family” in the Market Place.

Located on North Seventh Street, the Market Place is open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, every Saturday, rain or shine, and your well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome.

For more information, please visit FernandinaBeachMarketPlace.com, like us on facebook, or call (904) 557-8229.

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Invitation to Sponsor Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Invitation to Sponsor Amelia Island Jazz FestivalImage credit: Marcus Glenn “Festival Jazz” Amelia Island Jazz Festival

“Dear Future Sponsor:

We invite you to view a very exciting 2 minute video describing our exciting upcoming 10/16 to 10/19 Amelia Island Jazz Festival:

You will see the festivals endorsements from Jazz legends Wynton Marsalis and Tony Bennett, plus many other world class Jazz musicians like David Sanborn and Ramsey Lewis who have played the festival and want to return.

You will also see our jazz in the schools presentations that each year inspire hundreds of middle school and high school students to reach for the higher note.

You will also see our scholarship winner perform, and learn about our annual scholarship program. Plus other AIJF presentations, Jazz for seniors and Jazz for kids.

Jazz is America’s unique art form and in order to keep jazz alive on Amelia island we need the support of the community.

Our jazz festival website has all of our history and our Sponsorship information, and if you become a sponsor at the Bronze Sax level you will be invited to our Oct 13 Sponsors Party at the Omni/Amelia island Plantation to experience the energy of the Amelia Island Jazz Festival in full swing.

It would also by my pleasure to meet you personally that evening as I will be performing with my all-star Jazz Quartet featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele and our special guest, 2014 AIJF scholarship winner 18 year old saxophonist Luke Stribling.

I thank you for considering sponsorship and for taking the time to view this video.

I have dedicated my life to Jazz, and my biggest passion is to share this music with the world.

Thank you for your support

Les DeMerle
Amelia Island Jazz Festival
Founder and Artistic Director”

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AI Jazz Festival Picks 2014 Scholarship Winner

Luke Stribling SeniorPic2Luke Stribling, a promising young alto saxophone player from Orange Park has been named the latest recipient of the annual jazz scholarship from The Les DeMerle Amelia Island Jazz Festival. A graduate of the Douglas Anderson School Of The Arts who is now a freshman at the University Of Central Florida, Stribling will be among those performing at this year’s festival in Fernandina Beach, October 16 – 19.

The festival’s Jazz Advisory Board chose Stribling after auditioning several candidates from Northeast Florida and other areas of the country.
At 19 Stribling already boasts a slew of impressive honors. He was a member of both the Allstate Concert and Symphonic Bands and achieved Superior Ratings at solo and ensemble playing from the district and state throughout high school.  During his senior year he led the saxophone section for the Douglas Anderson Wind Symphony, which performed nationally, including a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.  Additionally, Stribling received the prestigious Louis Armstrong Award for outstanding achievement and superior musicianship.  Along with his college studies, Luke fronts his own band, the Jive Katz Collective.

Stribling said his earliest music teacher, Jim Daniel, turned him on to jazz, especially from the swing and bebop eras.  Furthermore he was inspired by the music of Jacksonville’s notable pianist, Marcus Roberts.  “I have also been highly influenced by Cannonball Adderley, Paul Desmond, Lee Konitz, and of course, Charlie Parker,” he said.

Luke is already considered “one of the best young saxophonists in the country,” according to Ace Martin, the school’s Instrumental Music Chairman. He’ll have a chance to show off his chops when he sits in with the Les DeMerle Jazz All-Stars featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele for the AIJF Sponsor’s Party, Monday, October 13 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort-Heron Room at Racquet Park; then, he will join the Next Generation Jazz Band on the outdoor Birdland Jazz Stage preceding each of the headliner shows by Tony Monaco and Randy Brecker at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation on October 17 and 18, respectively.

“Luke is a strong, mature player and has an exemplary academic record,” said DeMerle, the festival’s Creative Director.   “He is well versed in the history of jazz from the beginning, and best of all, he knows how to swing!  We are very excited about playing with him at the festival, and everyone who attends can expect a wonderful evening of great jazz.  It is most gratifying to hear upcoming musicians like Luke, and our festival will continue to add inspiration and financial benefits to help advance this great American art form.”

Amelia Island Jazz Festival tickets and information are available online at: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com and at:
The UPS Store – Island Walk Shopping Center, 1417 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
(904) 277-0820

Turning Our Attention Towards the Amelia Island Jazz Festival

Randy Brecker

Randy Brecker

September is Blues and October is Jazz on Amelia Island. With a magnificent Blues Festival behind us, there are several outstanding reasons to turn our eyes towards next month’ Amelia Island Jazz Festival. For me there are FOUR reasons this year! Randy Brecker, Tony Monaco, El Niño and the Latin Jazz Knights and the incomparable Jilla Webb Jr.

Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker, a multiple Grammy Awards winner, and monster jazz organ player Tony Monaco, are set to headline the 2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced recently by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A hugely successful performer who has sold well over a half million albums as a solo artist, Brecker will be performing a tribute to the Brecker Brothers in honor of his late brother Michael, on Saturday, October 18, at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. Credited with augmenting the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades, Randy Brecker’s trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of recording artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, and monster bass player Jaco Pastorius (RIP).

Tony Monaco

Tony Monaco

Tony Monaco, who will appear on Friday, October 17 at the Omni, is a leader in the revival of the Hammond B3 organ in jazz. As he has been with so many fledgling jazz organists, Jimmy Smith played a significant role in attracting Monaco to jazz and retaining his interest in the music. A critically acclaimed player, Monaco consistently ranks high among organists in DOWNBEAT Magazine’s Annual Critics Poll. He has released several well-reviewed albums including his latest, “Celebration: Life & Love & Music” on the Chicken Coup Label.

The Jazz Festival Moves into its second decade

Now in its 11th year, the AIJF’s past headliners include numerous world-class artists such as David Sanborn who commented, “The Amelia Island Jazz Festival is authentic, exciting and charming. I love the island and I look forward to coming back soon.” Another stalwart performer, Ramsey Lewis, called the AIJF, ” the ‘real deal’ because the focus is on true Jazz music.” Buckwheat Zydeco, Spyro Gyra, and Mindi Abair are among the other notables to have appeared on the festival’s stages. According to DeMerle, this year’s lineup will follow in the best of festival traditions. “We are very excited to have Randy, a longtime friend, and Tony this year—both are highly regarded and among the world’s finest on their respective instruments,” he said. “Fernandina Beach can truly look forward to some spectacular musical fireworks.”

Artist Line Up

The AIJF, which will run from October 16-19, will kick off with its annual pre-Festival free concert in Amelia Park on Sunday, October 12, with U.S. Navy Band Southeast. A Latin Jazz Night showcasing one of the country’s hottest dance groups, El Niño and the Latin Jazz Knights, is scheduled for Thursday, October 16, at Sandy Bottoms. Prior to the headliner shows on October 17 and 18, the festival will present this year’s AIJF Scholarship winner, saxophonist Luke Stribling and the Next Generation Jazz Band on the outdoor stage at the Omni. The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band, with dazzling vocalist Bonnie Eisele and exciting young saxophonist Hunter Diamond, will warm up each headliner show with high-energy sets.

Jilla Webb Jr

Jilla Webb Jr

It’s not entirely clear from the festival’s press release if accomplished and sultry singer Jilla Webb, Jr. will only host the traditionally fun late night Jazz Jams, or if she also lined up for performances. Ever since Eva Cassidy passed, Jilla Webb the younger is one of my go-to performers for sultry, jazzy, spilling your guts evergreens, whether with an orchestra backing her or her collaborations with guitarist Kurt McKinney or Bruce Innes.

The Jazz Jams featuring the AIJF’s 2014 musicians, takes place in the Omni’s Heron Room at the Racquet Park following the headliner sets on October 17 and 18.

The festival is scheduled to end on a swinging note Sunday, October 19, with a Dixie To Swing Jazz Brunch, featuring DeMerle’s Amelia Island Jazz Festival All-Stars, plus Eisele and the highly talented Dr. Bill Prince, at David’s Restaurant. Additionally during the week, the AIJF will present a Jazz In The Schools program, clinics, jam sessions and more to be announced.

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

Connecting Fine Art with Classic Jazz

Connecting Fine Art with Classic JazzA new and innovative concept will be on display at the 2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival’s Big Band Bash. The prestigious Park West Gallery, the world’s leading dealer of fine art, will support the festival by providing jazz related paintings to be auctioned at the annual fund raising dinner/dance event, which will be held Saturday, April 19, 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle was ebullient in announcing the association, “We are quite pleased to have the support of this notable institution,” he said, “and I can’t wait to see the artwork that will result accordingly.” DeMerle said that one of Park West’s award-winning artists, Marcus Glenn, will create and donate an original painting for the auction. Glenn is the official artist of the 2014 Grammy Awards and is world renowned for his jazz inspired masterpieces.

The connection between the Jazz Festival and Park West came about recently when Gallery Director Morris Shapiro heard The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band and vocalist Bonnie Eisele live on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship while sailing throughout Australia and New Zealand. Shapiro, also an accomplished drummer, had coincidentally studied and worked through several of DeMerle’s instructional books, and many of the Gallery executives, 100 of whom were also on the cruise, play drums as well. Shapiro and a few of his staff members wound up sitting in with the DeMerle band which led to much excitement. Then a discussion evolved as to how the two organizations could work together to combine their positive energies to bring the AIJF mission to its next exciting level with the support of the Park West Foundation mission. DeMerle said that “the band, Bonnie and our guest drummers were all on fire. Musically we all hit it off immediately, plus the match was perfect in another way: We have been performing with Celebrity cruises for several years and Park West is the exclusive Art Dealer for the company.”

Shapiro will fly to Amelia Island to attend the Big Band Bash and speak on behalf of Marcus Glenn and the Park West Foundation. “We are thrilled to be affiliated with such an excellent musical event,” he said, “and we welcome the opportunity to help support young musicians to develop their talents and pursue careers in jazz.”

Additionally, another of Park West’s artists, Tim Yanke, will showcase his talent by creating an original painting on a cymbal provided by one of DeMerle’s sponsors, Zildjian Cymbals. It will also be auctioned off at the event. Yanke draws his inspiration from great jazz and pop music as well as significant abstract painters of the 20th century, including Jackson Pollack, and Robert Rauschenberg.

The popular Benefit Gala 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. The music will pay tribute to greats like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Harry James, with whom DeMerle played drums for several years. A Meet And Greet the Musicians cocktail party is set to begin at 6:30 PM and will include a complimentary glass of champagne.

The Park West Gallery headquarters is located in Southfield, Michigan, Its 63,000 square foot classical Greco-Roman building is designed in the style of many museums built in North America in the 20th century. Inside, 23 spacious exhibition galleries boast a vast array of prominent nationally know artists alongside masters like Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miró. Each of the galleries is devoted to a particular artist or type of art. Moreover, the Gallery operates an additional 181,000 square foot facility in Miami Lakes, Florida which acts as its distribution center, servicing cruise ships and land-based auctions.

Tickets for the Big Band Bash are priced at $75.00 per person, and the proceeds will benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program. Requested dress is Semi-Formal/Casually Elegant.

For online ticket purchases and further information, please visit the festival website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com

Tickets can also 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.

For more information, please contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772

Email address: info@ameliaislandjazzfestival.com

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.

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