Indy’s jazz scene between the 1970s through 1990s was a hotbed of musical diversity.
Saxophonist Jim Farrelly led True to Form, a top local contemporary jazz band.
An Indiana University Music School graduate, Farrelly played lead alto sax in Stan Kenton’s last orchestra in 1978. His first contemporary jazz group, Full Circle, became a popular six-piece band, renamed True to Form.
“At one point, we were playing six nights a week,” he says of his band, which lasted 16 years. “We started in 1985, and the last time we played at the Jazz Kitchen was 2001.” During that time, True to Form recorded two CDs.
Today, Farrelly is a busy musician doing studio work, playing locally and touring in Broadway shows. “I play lead alto in the Steve Allee Big Band and sub on the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra,” he says. “I have played with the Flip Miller Wedding Band for 17 years.”
On top of that, Farrelly teaches saxophone one day a week at Broad Ripple High School in their magnet program.
Like jazz itself, the local jazz scene is consistently evolving. The passing of local jazz icons Jimmy Coe and “Pookie” Johnson left a huge void in the legacy of Indiana Avenue jazz artists. The 2007 death of Virtue Hampton ended the Hampton Sisters’ longevity of performance. The tradition of jazz is kept alive in mainstream venues like the Chatterbox and the Jazz Kitchen, but they are diversifying their sound with R&B, funk and fusion. There may not be as many venues for jazz as in the past, but you can hear a high caliber of varied jazz styles seven nights a week around Indy.