New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival
2020 In Memoriam....
The New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival honors four who were sponsors, one who assisted the festival, one artist / musician and three musicians.
Walter Johnson was born in Deland and came to New Smyrna Beach in 1980 to purchase Settle Wilder Funeral Home, which he operated for forty years. He was active in the community and was past commodore of both Smyrna Yacht Club and Anglers Yacht Club. His hobbies included aviation as a licensed commercial pilot, which allowed innumerable trips to the Bahamas and other places, boating, fishing and playing the piano which he did at the Smyrna Yacht Club on numerous occasions. He enjoyed listening to the late Harold Blanchard playing improvisational jazz. Walter was a sponsor of the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival since 2001.
Ira was born in Washington, D.C. and picked up a trumpet at age 3-1/2, not long before his family moved to Chicago. During his career in the windy city, he played with jazz greats Charlie Parker and Lester Young. He moved to Miami in 1962 and was popular in the Central Florida area. Ira played at Clancy’s Cantina for the 2012 NSB Jazz Festival.
Bobby Mercer was known as “Mr. Entertainment” with his Bobby Mercer Roadshow that toured the country and, for over 30 years, performed annually at Hersheypark and The Allentown Fair in Eastern PA. Born in Nova Scotia, Bobby lived in Pennsylvania for many years before moving to Orlando where he made a name for himself at several venues. Locally, he was popular at the Images Art Festival from 2008 to 2014 and The NSB Jazz Festival in 2005, 2007 and 2011.
Joe Oddo was a native of Detroit Michigan and a resident of Edgewater. Besides his family, his greatest joy was music. During World War II, he played in the U.S. Army Band. He performed live concerts and entertained until age 90, playing bass and singing in the Joe Oddo Orchette along with his wife and singer Gwen who was honored in 2019. Joe performed with Tony Bennett, Myron Floren, Bob Hope, Barbra Streisand and many others. Locally, he performed at Smyrna Yacht Club and Sugar Mill Country Club. He performed for the Jazz Festival in 2002 at The Flagler Tavern and 2007 at the NSB Library.
Patricia Puzzo was born in Yarmouth, Maine and moved to NSB in 1975. She was a homemaker and enjoyed walking the beach, going out to dinner and music. Along with her son Peter, they were Jazz Fest sponsors since 2007.