Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis will headline the 27th annual Valparaiso University Jazz Festival, scheduled for April 9-14. The Valpo Jazz Festival is the Midwest’s largest non-competitive jazz event. Also appearing are trumpeters Terrell Stafford and Bobby Lewis. Valpo’s Faculty Jazz Trio and Jazz Ensemble as well as high school and college groups from Indiana and Chicago will also be featured.
Jeffrey C. Brown, Jazz Studies coordinator, co-producer and founder of the festival is ready for the week-long event.
“I’m excited about this year’s festival,” Brown said. “Not only are Marsalis, Stafford and Lewis excellent musicians, but also they are very active in the jazz education community. Valpo’s Jazz Ensemble is busy preparing Terrell Stafford’s interesting and difficult arrangements. The challenge of learning that level of material and then performing it live with the artist is an experience the students will take with them forever.”
To celebrate the 27th anniversary of the event at Valpo, Union Director and festival organizer Larry Mosher says three of the biggest names in jazz world will take the stage in separate headline events.
“Every night is a highlight,” Mosher said. “We don’t offer one genre of jazz but rather an opportunity to view all types of jazz and give Valpo students the opportunity to play with professional musicians.”
Known as an excellent jazz pianist from New Orleans, Ellis Marsalis has composed and performed with numerous jazz icons throughout his career including drummer Ed Blackwell, tenor saxophonist Nat Perrilliat, clarinetist Alvin Batiste, cornetist Nat Adderley, and saxophonist Ornette Coleman.
Marsalis is at the forefront of music educators in the United States, imparting his extensive knowledge of jazz to his four sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason, pianist and vocalist Harry Connick Jr., and trumpeter Terence Blanchard to name a few. The first occupant of the prestigious Coca Cola Jazz Chair at the University of New Orleans, Marsalis, age 85, retired after 12 years as director of the Jazz Studies Division.
Terrell Stafford has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. He has recorded six albums as leader and performed with groups such as Bobby Watson’s group Horizon, Benny Golson’s Sextet, the Kenny Barron Sextet, and the Jimmy Heath Big Band. An educator as well as a performer, Stafford currently is director of Jazz Studies and chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Bobby Lewis was a first call Chicago recording session musician for more than 30 years with over 7,500 recordings to his credit. Countless numbers of jingles, film scores, and records. Among the most notable jingles (radio and television commercials) are State Farm Insurance “Like a Good Neighbor” and the Pillsbury Doughboy theme. In addition to producing 10 solo recordings with various groups, a few of the many performers he has worked with include: Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Wilson.
“One of my former students, Chris Drabyn, performed at the festival as a LaPorte High School student, then later as a Bachelor of Music Education student and Jazz Ensemble member here at Valpo,” Brown said. “On Monday evening, he is directing the Avon High School Jazz Ensemble (Indianapolis). As an educator, it’s great when things come full circle – it’s emblematic of one of the many success stories of this festival, the Department of Music and indeed the University as a whole.”
All performances will be held in the Ballroom of the Harre Union:
* April 9- 6 p.m., Jazz Ensembles: Avon High School (Indianapolis), Columbia College Fusion Band (Chicago), Hebron High School, Valparaiso High School (Studio Band & Jazz Ensemble). The concert is free and open to the public.
* April 10- 6 p.m., Jazz Ensembles: Chesterton High School, Portage High School (Jazz Ensemble I & II), Michigan City High School, Valparaiso University. The concert is free and open to the public.
* April 11- 7:30 p.m., Chicago Trumpet Legend Bobby Lewis & his Quintet. Tickets are $15 for the public and $10 for senior citizens and alumni.
* April 12- 7:30 p.m., Terrell Stafford with the Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble; Jeffrey Brown, director. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for senior citizens and alumni.
* April 13- 7:30 p.m., Terrell Stafford and the Valparaiso University Faculty Jazz Trio featuring Billy Foster, Bruce Evans and Jeffrey Brown. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for senior citizens and alumni.
* April 14- 8 p.m., The Ellis Marsalis Quartet. Tickets are $25 for the public and $18 for senior citizens and alumni.
Tickets for all performances will go on sale only for Valpo faculty, staff and students, on Feb. 17 at the Harre Union Welcome Desk. Online ticket sales will begin March 5 for the general public and Valpo faculty, staff, and students at valpo.edu/union/tickets. Tickets will be available for everyone both online and at the Harre Union Welcome Desk on March 20. The desk is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to midnight. Mastercard, Visa and Discover credit cards are accepted, as well as checks. For more information, call (219) 464-5415.
About Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.