The four-day festival, May 18-21, will include an evening of Williams' big-band works, including her hits as well as never-before-heard pieces. Pianist Geri Allen will perform Williams' 12-part Zodiac Suite, a 1945 jazz tone poem originally performed by the New York Philharmonic.
Other performers include pianist Hiromi, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and the Kit McClure Big Band, as well as an ensemble of leading college musicians.
One of the first female instrumentalists to come to prominence in the world of jazz, Williams got her start in Kansas City in the 1930s as pianist, composer, and arranger for Andy Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy. In the '40s, she moved to New York, where she became a part of the nascent bebop scene. Later, she created a series of ambitious, large-scale works, including some inspired by her conversion to Roman Catholicism.