ALCORN STATE UNIVERSITY Jazz Festival

Bill Seratt

April 6

37th Annual Alcorn State University Jazz Festival – Saturday, April 22, 2017

For over three decades the Department of Fine Arts at Alcorn State University (ASU) has sponsored what has become Mississippi’s longest running and most prestigious jazz festival.  The day-long festival features performances by some of the most outstanding professional jazz musicians and university, college and secondary school jazz ensembles from throughout the United States.  Highlights of the festival are the afternoon workshops and evening concerts by some of the world’s greatest jazz artists.  This year’s featured performer is the incredible Ramsey Lewis and His Electric Band.

Now in its 37th year, the annual ASU Jazz Festival is a masterpiece rich in tradition and talent.  Jazz masters like Clark Terry, Max Roach, Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Freddie Hubbard, Louie Bellson, Donald Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, McCoy Tyner, Arturo Sandoval and Bradford Marsalis have graced the stage.  This remarkable catalogue of talent and the fact that the event is free have made it the premier jazz event in the region.

Ramsey Lewis, who is a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality.  He is a three-time Grammy winner, has recorded over 70 albums and has joined forces with countless other artists to create new and innovative music.

Although known in the jazz world for many years, by 1966 Lewis was one of the nation’s most successful jazz pianists, topping the charts with The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water.  All three singles each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold records.  Many of his recordings attracted a large non-jazz audience.  In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic and using an additional keyboardist in his groups.

In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosts the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990.  He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago’s “smooth jazz” radio station WNUA (95.5 FM).  From 2006 - 2009, his morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture’s Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz across the country.

The ASU Jazz Festival will be at the Vicksburg Convention Center in historic downtown Vicksburg on Saturday, April, 22nd.  Festival goers can enjoy performances by high school and university jazz ensembles from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Ramsey Lewis will conduct a workshop for the student performers from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  The evening concerts begin at 7:00 pm with a performance by the Mississippi Jazz Educators followed by Ramsey Lewis and the His Electric Band taking the stage at 8:00 pm.  Remember this incredible day of entertainment is free.