New List of Elkhart Jazz Festival Artists Unveiled

February 04, 2013

The latest list of artists scheduled to play this summer at the Elkhart Jazz Festival is bursting with old favorites and new names.

Seventeen more acts have been added to the festival’s lineup in addition to headliners Wynton Marsalis and John Pizzarelli. Pizzarelli, an accomplished jazz guitarist will play June 21 at the Lerner Theatre in downtown Elkhart, and Marsalis a renowned trumpet player, will perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for an exclusive concert on June 22 at the theater. Other artists that have been announced include the Dave Bennett Quartet, Davina and the Vagabonds and the Bria Skonberg Quintet.

More performers will be revealed in the coming weeks.


• Greg Abate: Grammy-nominated jazz musician Greg Abate has more than a dozen recordings under his belt. A composer, saxophonist and flutist, Abate has traveled internationally to perform at jazz festivals in Europe, Russia, Canada and across the United States.

• Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band: Formed 23 years ago in Florida, Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band continues the musical traditions of artists like Jelly Roll Morton and Count Basie. Trombonist Bill Allred was part of the 25th Anniversary Jazz Band that performed at the 2012 Elkhart Jazz Festival.

• Carl Sonny Leyland Trio: The ragtime influenced Carl Sonny Leyland Trio features Marty Eggers on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums and, of course, bandleader Carl Sonny Leyland on piano. Leyland brings versatility to the group with a repertoire that spans early jazz to rockabilly.

• Chuck Redd Quartet with Ken Peplowski, Frank Tate and Graham Dechter: Experienced drummer and vibraphonist Chuck Redd has toured internationally with multiple stops in Europe and Japan. Redd has been featured on at least 70 recordings and was a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra for 15 years.

• Joan Collaso: Vocalist Joan Collaso is a Elkhart Jazz Festival favorite. The soulful Chicago native blends jazz with R&B, blues and gospel. She has contributed backup vocals for Susan Boyle, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Sugarland and Tim McGraw.

• Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers: Hailing from Dayton, Ohio, Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers pays tribute to the music of the late ’20s and early ’30s when jazz was making a transition into swing.

• The Faux Frenchmen: Gypsy jazz is the heart and soul of The Faux Frenchmen. The quartet formed in 2002 with acoustic guitarists George Cunningham and Brian Lovely, violinist Paul Patterson and bassist Don Aren.

• Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra: The 18-piece Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra highlights music by big band giants like Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman but does not shy away from more contemporary styles performed by artists Frank Mantooth and Maynard Ferguson. The orchestra formed in 2005 with a mix of trained musicians, music teachers and big band fanatics.

• Kris Brownlee Quartet: Saxophonist Kris Brownlee has more than 25 years of experience playing in cities across the Midwest, including South Bend, Elkhart and his hometown, Fort Wayne. Brownlee’s music has been featured on Goshen College’s radio station, 91.1 The Globe.

• Nia Quintet: The Nia Quintet regularly performs original music and covers classic tunes at some of Chicago’s hottest jazz clubs. The band’s second album, “Earth Sign,” is expected to be released this year.

• Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub: Elkhart Jazz Festival veteran Bucky Pizzarelli is a self-taught guitarist who toured with artists Vaughn Monroe and Benny Goodman. Born in New Jersey, Ed Laub studied under Pizzarelli and started playing the seven-string guitar more than 40 years ago.

• Ariel Pocock: Young pianist and vocalist Ariel Pocock has landed honor after honor from Downbeat Magazine, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and the Seattle-Kobe Jazz Vocalist Competition. Pocock studies under jazz pianist Shelly Berg at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

• Tom Rigney and Flambeau: Spicing up the Elkhart Jazz Festival, Tom Rigney and Flambeau will add Cajun and zydeco flair to the lineup. The band has been hopping from festival to festival since 2000.

• Truth in Jazz: Elkhart County’s own Truth in Jazz has been celebrating music from the big band era since 1998. Band members have performed with artists including Bobby McFerrin, the Glenn Miller Band and Sarah Vaughan among others.

• The U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble: Drawing talent from around the country since 1974, the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble picks up inspiration from jazz legends like trumpeter Louis Armstrong, drummer Art Blakey and pianist Count Basie.

• VibeNation: Local festival favorite VibeNation has been going strong for 20 years. The band has appeared at Elkhart’s Rhapsody in Green, Concert on the Green, WVPE jazz events and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

• The Whistle Pigs Dance Band: Described as a “close-knit family of musicians,” The Whistle Pigs Dance Band has shared the stage with The Temptations, Charlie Daniels, The Birds, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and many others. The band specializes in classic rock, jazz and rhythm and blues.