Jazz Chuck Workman
Here’s the annual look back at Indy jazz in 2005 and what may be on the horizon in 2006 ... The previous year saw some changes for performing jazz artists. On the downside, the big word was economics as venue owners went with smaller groups. Duos and trios seem to be the preferred units for work around the city. Local radio took a hit, especially for local jazz musicians getting air exposure, when WTPI’s format changed in October. There were significant losses to Indy’s jazz community with the passing of legendary Indiana Avenue saxophonist Alonzo “Pookie” Johnson, pioneering singer/pianist Flo Garvin Deakyne, bassist/trombonist Gene Fowlkes and Bob O’Friel, producer/host of the long-running radio show Jazz Lives on WICR. Not all was bad news, though. On the plus side, both of Indy’s jazz clubs had outstanding gains. The Chatterbox’s policy of giving new groups a stage to develop along with a diverse range of styles in and around jazz proved to be a winner for owner David Andrichik. “Last year we found a couple of new crossover groups that were successful, with Goldie Johnson & Exquisitely Yours a great R&B with incredible range, and Harry Miedema’s Bossa Rio group with a three-horn frontline that gives a big band sound, and Ralph Johnson’s Flip City,” Andrichik said. He also praised Mary Moss’ tremendous vocals, Kyle Quass’ avant-garde style and trumpeter Clifford Ratliff stepping up to fill the gap left by “Pookie” Johnson. A big 2005 addition Andrichik has made is jazz on Sundays. Andrichik announced some changes coming in 2006: “On Friday and Saturday nights I’m considering making the first set of 10 p.m. to midnight no smoking. We are also going to focus on getting the Massachusetts Avenue theater crowd after their shows and I think the no smoking will help.” Jazz Kitchen owner David Allee is very pleased with the public’s response to his inclusion of national acts new to the Jazz Kitchen. “On a personal side, I felt like we were able to bring in a few more national artists than we did in previous years. We have been able to jump on the jam band/jazz scene a little bit more since it has taken off. I felt like some of the bands individually, like the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, made great strides adding to their stability.” Allee is very upbeat. He stated about local jazz, “I think the jazz scene in general is moving forward. There’s a lot of positive things happening.” He feels that jazz in 2006 will do well in spite of the world’s situation because the arts and jazz are a little bit of salvation from the day-to-day world. This city has two active jazz organizations that are open to the public. The Indianapolis Jazz Club is one of the nation’s oldest and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2006. IJC President Ken Kolmerten was very pleased with the club’s 2005 efforts. “We’ve had good support from our members and we can always use new members. We have had a successful year with two concerts that were outstanding with noteworthy bands.” The IJC emphasis is on traditional pre-’50s jazz and Kolmerten stresses they are going after new and young members in 2006. He added that in honor of their 50th anniversary, the IJC is planning a riverboat cruise down the Ohio River. That date is TBA. The IJC will also put on two concerts March 25 at the Jazz Kitchen — one afternoon and one evening. The Indianapolis Jazz Foundation has had a proactive 2005 under outgoing President Janice Carter. “I thought it was a great year. It gave me an opportunity to bring the organization out and we were written up in several local newspapers for some of the projects we had. We reclaimed old members back into the fold. The IJF has become prominent in the local community with its induction of local jazz artists into the Foundation’s Jazz Hall of Fame and its charitable Holiday Jazz Showcase.” Carter is especially pleased about the Foundation’s jazz education for youth. “The organization is about helping jazz to grow and introducing it to young kids. We were able to do that through a successful program called Jazz For Kids, thanks to past President Bob Clark and Cynthia Bates of the Walker Theatre, and will bring it back in 2006.” She adds the IJF has aligned itself with the American Pianists Association and looks forward to more involvement with the Indy Jazz Fest. Incoming IJF President Andy Kocher reflects outgoing President Carter’s views on the significance of bringing jazz to kids. “I think the best thing the IJF did was really get involved and promote the Jazz For Kids program, which will move forward into 2006 along with the Holiday Showcase.” The American Pianists Association production of the annual Indy Jazz Fest settled comfortably into its niche in 2005. APA Artistic Director Joel Harrison reflected on its success: “I thought the 2005 festival was nothing less than thrilling. We had wonderful weather, we had top notch artists and we had wonderful attendance.” Harrison points out that with last year’s success the festival has found its format in 2006: the success of alternating two stages so that everyone can enjoy all of the acts, and keeping the festival in Military Park. There was a credible amount of CDs released by local artists in 2005. Guitarist Charlie Smith turned out his second CD. Monika Herzig had a sterling release. Cathy Morris turned out a popular Latin jazz CD. Other releases were by Michael Hackett, Becky Archibald, George Middleton, Amy Stephens and Teresa Giles. Jazz data
The Glendale Branch Library will present pianist/keyboardist Carl Hines Quartet in a concert titled “Winterset: Hot Music for a Cold Winter Afternoon” on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. The free concert will feature classic songs in a variety of jazz styles.