The Jazz Kitchen

Indy Jazz Fest 2023 Recap

Indy Jazz Fest 2023 Recap

A quarter century on the music scene in Indianapolis, Indy Jazz Fest 2023 presented a lineup of concerts across two weeks in late September with a diversity of international, national, and regional performers, various venues across our city, and offering the many threads of jazz from BeBop to Latin jazz to touches of soul and even rock.

Indy Jazz Fest is a celebration of this great jazz city – with so many masters of the music who have come before to those coming up on the scene today.

This year, the festival celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of Wes Montgomery, a legend in jazz guitar. The festival featured Russell Malone and the Indianapolis Jazz Collective in tribute to Wes, with concerts in Indy but also taking the message on the road to Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, to share the love of this renowned guitarist. The amazing Pat Metheny spoke about meeting Wes and his influence on his formative teen years learning guitar as he delivered one of the most talked about solo concerts at Clowes Hall.

Sunset Series Club Concerts

A partnership with The Cabaret highlighted the Sunset Series of club concerts, with vocalists Lizz Wright, Veronica Swift, and Kurt Elling performing their magic to packed crowds. The Jazz Kitchen brought APA finalist Christian Sands back to Indy along with two CD release parties for Andrew Danforth and Bashiri Asad. Latin night, a long-time staple of the Jazz Kitchen’s Thursday nights, exploded this year with Pedrito Martinez and his internationally acclaimed Afro-Cuban music that got the party rolling, followed by Pavel and Direct Contact on the patio and a night with no end.

Naptown Sound: Official Indy Jazz Fest Kick-Off Celebration

The official kick-off night of the festival featured a rotating lineup of some of the best of Indy: Indianapolis Jazz Collective (Amanda King, Derrick Gardner, Rob Dixon, Steve Allee, Nick Tucker, Kenny Phelps); The Tucker Brothers (Nick Tucker, Joel Tucker, Sean Imboden); “From the 317” Band (Goldie, Bashiri Asad, Hank Hankerson, Reggie Bishop, Jon Wood, Richard “Sleepy” Floyd, Rob Dixon); VocalEase (Brenda Williams, Rebecca Rafla, Wendy Reed, Sandy Lomax); The Blue Side (Tad Robinson, Sadie Johnson, Kevin Anker, Reggie Bishop, Kenny Phelps, Rob Dixon); Pavel & Friends (Pavel, Steve Dokken, Kenny Phelps, David Allee, Rob Dixon, Leah Crane)

IJF Grand Finale at TCU Ampitheater

Indy Jazz Fest’s Grand Finale was held at the TCU Amphitheater on an absolutely beautiful day in Indianapolis, featuring NEA Jazz Master Stanley Clarke and his band, the Indy Jazz Legacy Band, percussionist and Latin GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Sheila E & E-Train and contemporary, smooth jazz saxophone superstar BONEY JAMES. Blaque Dynamite and the gang keep the party going for an after-set at the Jazz Kitchen late into the night.

The theme of “Looking Back, Looking Forward” was an uplifting celebration of jazz music in our city – a city steeped in the history, legacy, and, yes, the future of this uniquely American music.

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