VAIL - The Vail Jazz Festival expands this year, with new events in addition to favorites featuring national jazz artists playing in outdoor and intimate indoor venues this summer. This summer will be the 18th annual festival for the Vail Jazz Foundation. "We always strive to bring the very best of jazz to Vail - whether for our free concerts or for the Labor Day Weekend Party," said Howard Stone, chairman and artistic director of the Vail Jazz Foundation, which presents the Vail Jazz Festival. "We can promise some of the finest jazz available today, and in this naturally magnificent rocky mountain setting, it just doesn't get much better."The Jazz at Vail Square concert series returns each Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. from July 5 - Aug. 30. Comprised of nine shows at the Vail Jazz Tent in Lionshead outside the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the series reflects the diversity, energy, and musical creativity that define jazz. "Our goal is to introduce different genres of jazz on Thursday nights," said Robin Litt, executive director of the Vail Jazz Foundation. "Whether it is Latin jazz, swing, American songbook or Bebop, we bring it all to Vail Square." The Jazz at Vail Square talent is being finalized for this summer. Thus far, groups will include The Brubeck Brothers, Marcia Ball, Cuban sensation Wil Campa y su Grand Union, the Air Force Falconaires and more. New this year, due to the overwhelming popularity of the series, guests purchase preferred seats for $20 per show or purchase a season pass for $99. These seats guarantee guests premier seating at the front of the tent. Free seating remains in the rest of the tent, available on a first-come, first served basis. Jazz continues each Sunday beginning June 24 at the Vail Farmers' Market. Featuring regional and national artists performing in trios to large ensembles, each concert celebrates the joy of improvisation, the cornerstone of jazz. For 10 Sundays, jazz will be played from noon to 3 p.m. in the Jazz Tent at Solaris on the green. The lineup will be announced soon.New: Jazz at Restaurant Kelly Liken and joint Bravo concertIn partnership with restaurant Kelly Liken, jazz on Sundays continues into the night. Each Sunday night from 8:30 to 11 p.m., local jazz great, Tony Gulizia, will be joined by a special jazz guest. Paired with Kelly Liken's Harvest menu and hand crafted cocktails, guests can enjoy Gulizia and a guest artist each week. On July 2, the Vail Jazz Festival celebrates "Swingin' with Curtis Stigers," its first joint concert with Bravo! at the Ford Amphitheater. The pops concert will feature legendary jazz vocalist, Curtis Stigers and guest pops conductor Jeff Tyzik with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. "With all of the synergy between classical and jazz music, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work directly with the Dallas Symphony and Bravo!," Stone said.The Vail Jazz Festival culminates with a unique mix of the finest jazz musicians at The Vail Labor Day Weekend Jazz Party, held at the Vail Marriott Grand Ballroom and in the Jazz Tent at Vail Square. Whether group performances, multi-artist jam sessions, or the inspiring tributes to jazz legends, the weekend has a unique party spirit that attracts musicians and jazz lovers from all over the world. "This year's lineup of musicians is truly awe inspiring. Nowhere else but the Vail Jazz Festival will you witness a gathering of tremendous jazz artists in such a casual and intimate setting," Stone said.Tickets, passes and moreTickets, passes, or gift certificates to the Labor Day Jazz Party can be purchased through the Vail Jazz Foundation at 970-479-6146, or 888-VAILJAM (824-5526). Online tickets will soon be available for purchase at www.vailjazz.org. Guests of the Festival can enjoy lodging discounts at the headquarters hotel, the Vail Marriott Resort & Spa. Lodge rooms start at $109/night for festival attendees.The Vail Jazz Foundation (VJF)'s mission is to perpetuate jazz music through live performances that showcase the artistry and talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. The VJF is a non-profit organization that is funded by private and corporate donations as well as grants.