Best Jazz South of Chicago Comes to South Florida State College

The Eddie Metz Trio kicks off the 15th year of the SFSC Jazz Series at the 250-seat South Florida State College (SFSC) University Center on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. 

The Jazz Series is sponsored by Jeff and Sheri Saunders; Jim Lorne and Jo Ann Cardarella; Reverend Lynne Josselyn and Larry Conrad; Elaine Becker and Bill Schroder, and an anonymous fan. “Without these dedicated sponsors, I don’t know if there would be a professional jazz series in Highlands County,” said Cindy Garren, director of cultural programs at SFSC. “Ticket sales do not cover all the costs of presenting such stellar musicians, so we appreciate the financial assistance from these sponsors.”

The Eddie Metz Trio, an annual favorite at SFSC, features Rossano Sportiello on piano and Nikki Parrot on bass and vocals in an evening of traditional jazz standards. “Eddie always brings down the house because that guy can really swing,” said Larry Conrad, one of the sponsors of the jazz series at SFSC. Metz has played with Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Dick Hyman, Bucky Pizzarelli, and the Count Basie Orchestra. The show sponsor is Bill Baker and Taye Jackson. Tickets are $29 

Last season, Michigan jazz fixtures, Terry Lower and Edye Evans Hyde, who was named Michigan Jazz Vocalist of the Year, had the audience standing on their feet demanding an encore. Lower and Hyde will perform straight ahead jazz on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Inspired by Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, Terry Lower is a fun and exciting jazz pianist who always add his own twist. Hyde combines scat singing with a lyrical swankiness that makes her a must-see performer. Tickets are $29.

A Salute to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald with the Lisa Kelly and J.B. Scott Sextet is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Trumpeter J.B.Scott, who once led the Dukes of Dixieland, and five-time DownBeat Magazine award winning vocalist Lisa Kelly will explore the music of two of America’s greatest jazz musicians.

A Dixieland Jazz Finale will be performed on Wednesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. by John Skillman and the New Orleans Nighthawks. Most of the band members are “snowbirds” and perform in Florida November to April. “This is an all new program that John is putting together for us and he always delivers a night of hot trad jazz,” said Cindy Garren, director of cultural programs at SFSC. Tickets are $25. The show sponsor is Wilma Pilkington.

Tickets are available online at or by calling the SFSC Box Office at 863-784-7178. Students with a valid school ID receive a free ticket on the night of show at the box office. A jazz subscription package is available for $80, a savings of $28. Groups of 13 or more can save 50% on single ticket prices.

Photo: The Eddie Metz Trio.

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