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.
DeMerle is quite enthusiastic about the Bash’s 2015 edition. “This band is the real deal, an incredibly well-oiled swing machine that includes some of the greatest musicians on the planet,” he said. “We’ll be playing classic big band jazz from the repertoires of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Harry James and more. And to celebrate Valentine’s Day we’ll be showcasing a few romantic tunes as we pay tribute to the greats,” he added. Featured soloists will include Lead Alto Sax – Bill Prince, formerly with Buddy Rich; Lead Tenor Sax – Al Waters, formerly with Ray Charles; Lead Trumpet – JB Scott, a one-time leader of the Dukes of Dixieland and currently head of UNF Jazz Dept; and Lead Trombone – David Steinmeyer, formerly with Tony Bennett and leader of the Airmen of Note, the official United States Air Force band.
Guests will include WJXT Sports Director and part time singer Sam Kouvaris, who will emcee and perform tunes with the band. Notable artist Tim Yanke, who is affiliated with the Park West Gallery, an AIJF Sponsor, will also be on hand to exhibit his music oriented artistry.
The BIG BAND BASH schedule will kick off with a meet and greet the musicians at 6:30 PM. Dinner and music will begin at 7:00 PM, and the orchestra will play until 10:00 PM. A Silent Auction will take place from entrance time until 9:30 PM. Requested dress is Semi-Formal/Casually Elegant.
For online ticket purchases and further information, please visit the festival website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com
Tickets are priced at $85 per person and the proceeds will benefit the not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Les DeMerle Amelia Island Jazz Festival’s ongoing Scholarship Program, which raises money to support high school seniors in their pursuit of jazz studies in college.
In addition to online, tickets may 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.