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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Indy Jazz Fest returns in person

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After COVID-19 forced Indy Jazz Fest to go virtual last year, the annual celebration is back in person this year at Garfield Park on Sept. 18-19.

Rob Dixon, musician and longtime artistic director for the festival, said the new location has two benefits: It’s a beautiful setting, and it’s big enough to keep people safe as the delta variant continues to spread.

“I love Garfield Park; it’s one of the city’s premier parks,” Dixon said. “It allows people to socially distance and allows people to visit an Indy park. The theater is fantastic. … It’s a win-win for the Jazz Fest and for Indy Parks.”

Throughout the two-day event, 13 bands will take the stage. Dixon, who is performing with his group, Trilogy, said he’s looking forward to seeing Los Angeles-based artist Thundercat perform Sept. 19. Dixon stressed the importance of musicians getting work opportunities after losing so many last year.

“I think it’s not only financially important to have artists and musicians working again,” Dixon said, “it’s just good for everybody’s soul to have live entertainment. It’s something that everyone needs, not just musicians. It’s bringing normalcy back … and for us, it’s bringing the community together so we can have a great event and celebrate.”

Right now, Indianapolis artists have a lot to celebrate.

Besides the influx of outdoor arts events, support for artists and arts organizations has been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. Beyond financial support — organizations such as the Penrod Society, Chatterbox Jazz Club and Purdue Polytechnic High School partnered with the Jazz Fest for this year’s event — community support for the arts is evident.

Recently, Dixon was featured in a mural, “Keepers of Culture,” downtown for his contributions to the local arts scene, alongside Deborah Asante and Mariah Ivey, among others. The jazz scene in Indianapolis, Dixon said, is important to remember and celebrate as a cornerstone of the cultural history of the city.

“This is a year of celebration,” David Allee, director of Indy Jazz Fest, said. “… This year, we’re celebrating the return of our outdoor shows and presenting a lineup with great jazz and beyond, bringing in national and notable Indy-based musicians.”
While no longer constrained to virtual performances, Dixon said an online element will remain part of the festival to make it as accessible as possible.

“Accessibility is top of mind,” Dixon said. “We’ve decided we’ll always have a virtual component and archive through video and record as much as we possibly can. It’s a valuable asset because it’s there for people to see and it’s documenting for historical purposes.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

For tickets to the Indy Jazz Festival, visit indyjazzfest.net.
Sept. 18 lineup:
12:30 p.m. — Kenny Banks Trio Jr. and Kenny Phelps and Nick Tucker
1:45 p.m. — Jared Thompson and Premium Blend
3:15 p.m. — Rob Dixon and Trilogy
5 p.m. — Akiko Tsurga Organ Trio
6:45 p.m. — Moonchild
8:30 p.m. — Victor Wooten Band

Sept. 19 lineup:
Noon — Indiana All State High School Band
1 p.m. — Amanda Gardier Quintet featuring Greg Ward
2:20 p.m. — Pavel and Direct Contact
3:45 p.m. — Native Sun
5:15 p.m. — Marion Meadows
6:45 p.m. — Cory Henry
8:30 p.m. — Thundercat

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