In what may well be the biggest big band concert in Fernandina Beach history, the Amelia Island Jazz Festival will kick off its 18th year with an unprecedented and free big band show in Amelia Park, Sunday, October 3, from 12 pm to 4 pm. The Festival will present three accomplished big bands, beginning at noon with the Nassau Community Jazz Band, directed by Marc Dickman. At 1 pm the Yulee High School Jazz Band, directed by Amos Walker, will take the stage. The UNF Jazz Ensemble 2, directed by Dennis Marks, will begin at 2 pm. All 3 big bands, totaling 70 musicians, will jam together on a New Orleans “second line” blowout during the UNF group’s set. “This will be a fun show for all ages, and a great way to start this year’s festival,” said AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. “Everyone should bring their dancing shoes – in addition to their lawn chairs and blankets!” he added. Lunch and snacks from Chet’s Bar-B-Que will also be available throughout the afternoon.
The AIJF has announced that, due to a health issue with the band, the John Pizzarelli Trio will be unable to perform on Saturday, October 9. They have been rescheduled for the 2022 Festival. Replacing the Trio will be the venerable cabaret singer, Steve March-Tormé, a world class entertainer with an extraordinary talent for moving audiences through stirring vocals and dazzling them with his superb technique. Son of jazz legend, multi-talented Mel Tormé, March-Tormé performs enduring, well-crafted and beautifully arranged songs that appeal to both nostalgic and sophisticated listeners. March-Tormé’s latest CD, “Inside/Out,” is a set of 12 brand new, original tunes that he composed and is the first CD he’s recorded, on which he not only sings but plays keyboards and guitar. His October 9 performance will start at 7 pm in the Courtyard/Springhill Suites Ballroom on Atlantic Avenue.
Other Festival events will include a Sponsors Party, a Jazz and Wine Tasting event at The Decantery, the Jump Jive & Wail Swing Concert/Dance with the Les DeMerle Little Big Band featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele, a Hot Latin Concert/Dance with Trio Caliente and percussionist Doc Handy, (both at Sadler Ranch, 869 Sadler Road), a Friday, October 8 show with award winning saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Peplowski and his trio at the Courtyard/Springhill suites, late night jam sessions at Mocama Beer Company, and concluding with the Dixieland Jazz Brunch featuring the Spare Rib Six plus Eisele in the Courtyard / Springhill Suites Ballroom on Sunday, October 10. Now in its 18th year, the AIJF will showcase a full week and wide variety of jazz throughout Amelia Island. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Festival website: www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com
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