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: or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772. Email address:

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: and at:
The UPS Store – Island Walk Shopping Center, 1417 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
(904) 277-0820