American jazz composer and performer Ramsey Lewis will headline the 26th annual Valparaiso University Jazz Festival, taking place April 11-16 at the Harre Union. Jazz Fest is the Midwest’s largest non-competitive jazz event.

In addition to Mr. Lewis, Tia Fuller, Vincent Gardner, the University’s Faculty Jazz Trio, University student ensembles, and jazz bands from Northwest Indiana high schools will participate in this year’s festival.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio will perform at 8 p.m. April 16 in the Harre Union Ballroom. Tickets are $25 for the general public and $18 for senior citizens and Valpo alumni.

Tickets for all performances are available at www.valpo.edu/union/tickets, and or at the Harre Union Welcome Desk. The desk is staffed from 8:30 a.m. until midnight. MasterCard, Visa and Discover credit cards are accepted, as well as checks.

Lewis has been referred to as “the great performer,” a title reflecting his performance style and musical selections which display his early gospel playing and classical training along with his love of jazz and other musical forms. A native Chicagoan, Lewis has three Grammy awards and seven gold records to his credit. He received the industry award for the 2006 Stellar Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album, “With One Voice,” and the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in January 2007.

Also performing will be the nationally renowned group, The Tia Fuller Quartet, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 13, in the Union Ballroom. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for senior citizens and Valpo alumni.

An artist and teacher, Fuller was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star Beyoncé. As part of the “I Am Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour,” Fuller has played throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. She is a featured soloist on the “Beyonce Experience” DVD, “I Am Yours” and also appeared on number of major television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards, the 2010 Grammy Awards and also has performed as the featured soloist with Beyonce for President Obama at the White House. Fuller has recorded three CDs with her quartet.

Other concerts during the festival, all held at Harre Union, are:

• April 11 and 12 – Several Northwest Indiana high school jazz bands and the Indiana University South Bend Jazz Band will perform at 6 p.m. The concerts are free and open to the public.

• April 14 – The Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble, an auditioned student “big band” that plays traditional and contemporary jazz, will perform with special guest Vincent Gardner, trombonist, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $6 for senior citizens and alumni.

• April 15 – The Valparaiso University Jazz Trio, featuring Billy Foster, Bruce Evans and Jeffrey Brown will perform with special guest Vincent Gardner, trombonist. Tickets are $18 for the public and $12 for senior citizens and alumni.

The University’s Jazz Fest is produced in conjunction with the Post-Tribune, with additional support from the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission and VU Friends of Jazz.

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