Frank and Nancy DiFilice

Frank & Nancy – Submitted Photo

DiFelices Don’t Disappoint

By: Yvonne Van De Wiele-Cooper

It’s been a challenging year for the couple behind Brantford’s International Jazz Festival, but Frank and Nancy DiFelice never once considered calling an end to the popular event.

The year started off with knee surgery for Nancy in January, which required a lengthy period of convalescing and physiotherapy. “The weather we had wasn’t nice and being very much aware of what she was going through, I was making sure she didn’t fall or do any of those things,” said Frank. “He was a helicopter mother or a helicopter husband, watching every move I made, but I’d be really upset if it was the other way,” laughs Nancy.

Then, as things began to improve, they received a call late one Friday afternoon in May from the hospital in Bracebrige. Nancy’s older brother Roderick had experienced a major heart attack. They immediately headed out on the three hour ride to Bracebridge but sadly, Roderick had passed away before they reached the hospital. “It was devastating, absolutely devastating,” said Frank.

Two weeks later, Frank’s Aunt Caroline died. “My Aunt Caroline was a real sweetheart,” said Frank.

Avery Raquel

Avery Raquel – Submitted Photo

The icing on the cake came in June, when the DiFelices learned they’d been denied “Celebrate Ontario” funding by the Province.

Normally, they would have been notified in March as to how much provincial funding they had to work with, and much of the talent needs to be booked a year in advance. Although late in the game, one decision they never considered was scrapping the event.

The Willows

The Willows – Submitted Photo

TD remains a major sponsor and instead of filling the Sanderson Centre theatre, a VIP fundraising event is being held in the Sanderson’s lobby on the night of Friday September 13th. “The Willows,” a dynamic, vocal, harmony trio with a sound reminiscent of the “Andrew or McGuire Sisters” will perform for an intimate audience.

Hailing from Edmonton, the blonde, brunette, and red haired trio first met as dance students. Contralto Krista Deady, soprano Andrea Gregorio and mezzo soprano Lauren Pederson have a new album entitled “Tea for Three” which is number two on both ITunes and the Nielsen Soundscan jazz charts.

Opening ceremonies at 1:30 on Saturday, September 14th kick off the two day line-up of stellar, diverse entertainment on two main outdoor stages.

Jimmy Stahl Big Band

Jimmy Stahl Big Band – Submitted Photo

First up on the Bell Stage is Denielle Bassells with the swinging, carefree sounds of Parisian jazz and a bit of blues and funk thrown in.

The Tanya Wills Quartet features a repertoire including European Cabaret, music from the Great American songbook and contemporary pieces.

“The Jimmy Stahl Big Band,” which has toured extensively on both sides of the border, brings the sounds of gospel and swing and recently added the “American Songbook” and “Sounds of Sinatra” showcases, featuring male and female vocalists.

Johannes Linstead is an award winning Canadian guitarist and instrumentalist who fuses virtuoso Spanish- guitar with Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern and Latin American percussion and instrumentation.

Chicago Transit

Chicago Transit – Submitted Photo

Back again this year is Chicago Transit, the longest running tribute band to the original “Chicago.” They bring the dynamic, brassy sound of the original, along with five vocalists and a tight horn section.

Starting at 3p.m. on the Market Street stage on Saturday, you can hear; “The James Anthony Trio,” followed by “Rythmethod” and the “Angneya Chikte Trio.”

On Sunday starting at noon it’s the traditional jazz, funk, blues sound of “Red Hot Ramble.” The group also brings a New Orleans flavour to the mix, but with a distinctly Canadian flavour.

Red Hot Ramble

Red Hot Ramble – Submitted Photo

“The DiFelice Jazz Quintet” features none other than the vocals of Nancy DiFelice herself and one of the finest known Canadian drummers, Frank DiFelice. The couple founded the Brantford International Jazz Festival and was each awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. Joining them on stage will be B3 Hammond organist Frank Gennuso, guitarist Mark Teixera and saxophonist Michael Massaro.

Avery Raquel started wowing audiences from a very young age. Her debut album “Life Lessons” featuring jazz standards and pop songs, has received airplay on major stations nationwide.

John Finley

John Finley – Submitted Photo

Many will remember John Finley, a charismatic vocalist in the mid-sixties in “John and Lee and the Checkmates.” He’s opened for the Rolling Stones twice at Maple Leaf Gardens. In 1973 “Three Dog Night” covered his song “Let me Serenade You.” Finley is still going strong.

On the Market Street Stage starting a 1 p.m. on Sunday it’s; “Western Swing Band,” “Trickbag” and the “Rob Santos Quartet.”

There’s 16 acts to choose from, all free, with the exception of the VIP event to which only 125 tickets are being sold.

The 12th annual Brantford International Jazz Festival runs September 13th, 14th and 15th. So make sure to get your spot in Harmony Square for this great line up!

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