Big band concert returns to Bernardo Winery Aug. 27
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Ira Liss and The Big Band Jazz Machine. (Brant Bender)

Ira Liss and The Big Band Jazz Machine. (Brant Bender)

By Emily Sorensen
August 12, 2017

A popular summer tradition is returning for another year as the Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine performs Aug. 27 at the Bernardo Winery, 13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte in Rancho Bernardo.

The concert has sold out annually for the past six years, so tickets should be purchased early. Tickets are $25 general admission. A $160 jazz, wine and cheese package is available for four people. All tickets are available at

The package deal includes a reserved table for four, a cheese platter for four and a glass of wine off the winery’s bar list.

The band has been performing one show per summer at the winery for the past 15 years, said Liss, the band’s founder and bandleader.

As has been the group’s tradition for the past nine years, a special guest artist will join the band for the performance. In years past, the guests have included big names in music like Holly Hofmann, Gilbert Castellanos, Barbara Morrison and Eric Marienthal.

“We’ve had a wide variety of guest artists, both instrumental and vocal,” said Liss. “Every year is a little different and people like that.”

Liss said the guest artists allow them to show off the different kind of people who perform jazz and how they can perform with a big band group.

This year, the guest artist is jazz vocalist Slim Man. “(Slim Man) has quite a following,” said Liss. “He’s a professional vocalist raised on the music of the Rat Pack. He’s a smooth jazz artist but he loves the old standards. He’s the real deal.”

Liss said that his group and Slim Man will be using the same arrangements as used by Sinatra and other Rat Pack musicians. The songs they will perform at the concert will all be from the Great American Songbook and will include duets between Slim Man and the group’s regular female vocalist, Janet Hammer, he said.

Liss formed the group in February of 1979 in Escondido, where he was living and working at the time, and the group has been performing continuously for 38 years. “I’m being called now the veteran big band leader in town,” he said. “The band’s been together longer than any other in town.”

The band has released four albums and is working on a fifth, which will be released later this year. “Our last album went worldwide,” said Liss, which included radio play. “We’re not just a little band from San Diego, we’re a worldwide entity now.”

The band has 18 members including Liss, and perform at private events, festivals and anywhere else that is interested in them. “We’ll do anything for anyone who wants to hire us,” Liss said. “We have a library of over 20,000 arrangements. It’s easy to do any music for anyone.”

More than just Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, Liss said that the band’s music is very diverse and includes both traditional big band music and modern arrangements.

Shaina House