2004 was a year of resurgent activity on the local jazz scene. I asked key local providers of jazz about last year's results and what they are looking forward to in the new year. At the jazz forefront was the success of the Indy Jazz Fest under its new owner, the American Pianists Association. Helen Small, CEO/president of the APA, gave her reflections on the past year and what the organization is looking forward to in 2005. "I think the Indy Jazz Fest was an outstanding success artistically, musically, operationally; it was a smashing success. We were thrilled we were able to work with the number of partners that we did in order to bring it to the APA."
Small sees a glowing future for the APA and Indy Jazz Fest in the new year. "I think that the APA, through the Indy Jazz Fest in particular, will be able to contribute a lot to the growth of jazz in Indianapolis. Keeping the festival alive, I think, is so important to perpetuating the jazz heritage in Indianapolis. I know we have our sights set on increasing our activities in the schools year round through the success of the Indy Jazz Fest."
One of Indy's major jazz club owners, David Allee of the Jazz Kitchen, feels 2004 was a positive turning point. "2004 was a great year," Allee stated. "The Indy Jazz Fest came back and it was great to have that back in stride and helping promote the Indianapolis scene. We are also real happy with the way the club's grown this year."
Allee felt good about the Jazz Kitchen celebrating its 10th year. He also produced a commemorative double CD of 25 local artists who played the club and had Harry Connick Jr. back for SRO crowds.
Indy's jazz community lost two important men that shaped our Indy jazz heritage. Jimmy Coe was a saxophonist, educator and bandleader. Pete Pipkin owned the Place to Start (now the Jazz Kitchen) and founded the festival to honor Wes Montgomery. In their own ways, these leaders laid the groundwork for today's jazz scene. They both played major roles in David Allee's musical and business career.
"If I know Jimmy, he's still playing and doing what he wants to do," Allee said. "Jimmy Coe was a big mentor for me. I have known him since I was in the seventh grade. Pete Pipkin was a great supporter and equally as responsible for making sure that this club has been here for 10 years. Without him letting us pay our rent late the first couple of years we wouldn't have made it. He and his wife Pat were the people behind the scene and we have to carry on their legacy and I try to do it in their honor."
Allee is very upbeat about Indy's jazz scene for 2005. "The jazz scene is going to be pretty healthy in 2005. Our goals in 2005 are to elevate putting local artists in a little different light. They need to be presented as treasures. Things we have coming are The Guitar Summit, Kwai Piano Night and a Vocal Showcase of 10 different vocalists. The market has changed. There will be more contemporary artists - local and national." Look for some new surprises on the Jazz Kitchen menu in January according to Allee. "It's time. We have had the same menu for about three years. Like jazz, we always need to evolve as well with more seasonal items."
Next week, Chatterbox owner David Andrichik gives his outlook on jazz past and future.
The Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra will perform a long-awaited dream of Mark Buselli's, who is education director of the BWJO. Sunday, Jan. 9 at the Indiana History Center, a special concert titled "Side By Side" will take place at 6 p.m. when the BWJO High School All Star Jazz Ensemble, directed by Mark Buselli, will perform on stage with the entire Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. Some of the brightest local student players will be seated in this unique musical offering. Admission is $5 at the door.
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Friday, eclectic jazz by KWYJIBO. Saturday, Kevin Kouts Group, 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St. "Sizzling Steaks & Jazz Sunday," singer Deb Mullins & Trio, 7 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, Ken Fary, piano, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Elbow Room, 605 N. Pennsylvania St. Thursday, saxophonist Gregg Bacon, 8 p.m. to midnight.
Agio Restaurant, 635 Massachusetts Ave. Thursday, Bill Lancton, guitar, Dave Murray, bass, 6 to 10 p.m.
Jazz Kitchen, 54th Street and College Avenue. Swinging, singing vocals by Mary Moss & Friends. Saturday, stylistic tenor sax Rob Dixon Quartet, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. shows. Cover charge.
D'Vine a Wine Bar, 86th and Keystone Avenue, Woodfield Shopping Center. Thursday, Jeff DeHerdt, vocals/keyboards, 8 p.m. to midnight. Friday, Craig Peterson, sax, Julie Ann, keyboards. Saturday, Dave Ellman, vocals/keyboards.
Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. Sunday Jazz Brunch, The Impulse Jazz Trio, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Tommy Wills, sax, and TwoSome, Dining & Dancing Jazz, 7 to 10 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.