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VALPARAISO — Valparaiso University is going to be all about jazz April 1 to 5 as it hosts its 34th annual Jazz Fest featuring local and regional performers.

Stefon Harris and Blackout will headline the closing Jazz Festival Concert at 7:30 p.m. April 5. Opening act will be the Marco Villarreal Quartet.

"Sonic Creed," the latest album by Stefon Harris and Blackout, was named Jazz Album of the Year by WBGO, the world’s No. 1 jazz radio station. 

Opening act, the Marco Villarreal Quartet, brings together local, accomplished musicians who have performed across Northwest Indiana and Chicago. 

Tickets cost $25 for the general public; $20 for seniors and Valparaiso University retirees, alumni, faculty and staff; and $5 for VU students.

The week kicks off at 6 p.m. April 1 with performances of local high school bands. At 6 p.m. April 2, high school bands again will be featured with a special performance by the Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble and Vocal Ensemble. Admission is free on a first-come, first-seated basis for the Monday and Tuesday events.

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The Jazz Festival Big Band Bash, featuring the Valparaiso University Faculty Jazz Trio, the Northwest Indiana Jazz Educators Big Band, Midwest Big Band and Calumet Ridge Jazz Ensemble, will take place at 6 p.m. April 3. Tickets cost $10 for the general public; $8 for seniors and Valparaiso University retirees and alumni; and are free to VU students, faculty and staff.

The Calumet Ridge Jazz Ensemble is a growing group of jazz musicians that welcomes post-high school professional and amateur musicians who are eager to play in a group that increases the exposure of jazz in the Region and Northwest Indiana.

The 18-piece Midwest Big Band is a group of close friends, musicians and vocalists from Northwest Indiana and the south Chicago suburbs who share the same passion for big band jazz. 

The Chicago Jazz Showcase with Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jeffrey C. Brown, and special guests Scott Burns, tenor saxophone, Pharez Whitted, trumpet, and Tom Garling, trombone, will be at 7:30 p.m. April 4. Tickets cost $10 for the general public; $8 for seniors and Valparaiso University retirees and alumni; and free to VU students, faculty and staff.

All events will take place at the Harre Union Ballroom. Tickets are available on the Harre Union website now and will be available in person at the Harre Union Welcome Desk beginning March 11.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.