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Indy Jazz Fest: 19 Years Strong

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Celebrate the legacy of jazz music’s greatest artists while sampling the fresh, new sounds of local talent at Indy Jazz Fest. Now in its 19th consecutive year, the festival will take place from Sept. 14-23 at numerous venues throughout the city. This year’s celebration will honor Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, two iconic artists who would have celebrated their 100thbirthdays this year.

“Dizzy was one of the fathers of bebop jazz and big during the swing era, as well,” said Rob Dixon, a local artist who, since 2009, has been part of a team that organizes Indy Jazz Fest. 

Connoisseurs of laid-back, melodic harmonies and fans of hard-hitting upbeat tunes will be able to get their fix at the festival. Dixon says there is something to entice every musical palate.  

“There are a lot of different subgenres under the umbrella of jazz. But at any one of these concerts, people will have an enjoyable time. Kirk Whalum is very big. He has a jazz gospel record, ‘The Gospel According to Jazz.’ Taylor McFerrin, the son of Bobby McFerrin, does jazz fused with hip-hop flavor. There’s a little bit of everything,” said Dixon.

The money raised at Jazz Fest will support the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation, an organization dedicated to enriching Indianapolis with jazz awareness programs, educational workshops and concerts throughout the year.

“Most of the work is in music education, and what the foundation supports is professional musicians going into schools and doing workshops. With students at Shortridge High School, we are going to start a jazz band this year, so we are hiring jazz musicians to work with those kids,” said Dixon. 

Even though the festival kicks off next weekend, eager jazz fans can get a sample of things to come this Saturday by visiting the Indy Jazz Fest Stage at the Penrod Arts Fair. The fair takes place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Tickets cost $20. 



Indy Jazz Fest Band

When: Thursday, Sept. 14, 7–9 p.m. 

Where: Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center

Admission: Free, all ages

Join the Indy Jazz Fest Band as they perform a special musical tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria and Thelonious Monk. The indelible mark these four jazz innovators created will be captured in a modern interpretation celebrating their vast contributions.


Kirk Whalum at The walker

When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 8–9:30 p.m. 

Where: Madame Walker Theatre Center

Admission: $45

Forged from his Memphis, Tennessee, gospel roots and his 1980s initiation into the thriving Houston nightclub scene, Grammy Award-winner Kirk Whalum will bring his soulful, passionate sound to Indianapolis as part of the Indy Jazz Fest. 


Jazz in Speedway

When: Friday, Sept. 22, 6–10 p.m. 

Where: Dallara IndyCar Factory 

Admission: Free 

Who says Speedway is just for racing? This year, two of Indy’s top groups will perform on a beautiful outdoor stage in front of the Dallara IndyCar Factory. Slated to perform are the Farrelly Markiewicz Jazz Quartet and the Bill Lancton/Jimmy Davis Band.


Indy Jazz Fest Block Party 2017

When: Saturday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 

Where: The Jazz Kitchen

Admission: General admission tickets are $40, and $20 after 9 p.m. This event is for adults 21 and older The fest’s closing night celebration will include 12 bands on two stages, drinks, food and lots of dancing. 


For a full list of events, visit indyjazzfest.net



Dizzy and Ella
Dizzy and Ella

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