"Three and a half stars

IVCI Laureate Series; Indiana History Center; Nov. 15.

The Indiana History Center’s lobby is a big one with a name: Eli Lilly Hall. And when filled with tables and a performing platform, it becomes a cabaret — last Thursday a jazz cabaret. The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis sponsored its first all-jazz program then, as part of its Laureate series. It featured 2002 IVCI participant Sara Caswell, who since has worked her way into the forefront of jazz violinists. Caswell hosted an instrumental trio: Steve Allee on piano, an Indy local with a coast-to-coastal reputation; Jeremy Allen on bass, Department of Jazz Studies faculty member at IU who’s performed extensively here and abroad. We heard two sets of six numbers each, with a 20-minute break in between. Three of those 12 featured Caswell’s older sister, vocalist Rachel Caswell, who in her first song, “Receipt Please,” showed a marvelous ability at scatting — singing with nonsense syllables. My only caveat was in Rachel’s second song, Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You,” where the otherwise good amplification allowed Sara’s violin to cover some of Rachel’s “real” lyrics. Each number allowed each player his or her solo time, with ritual applause in between. In fact, the mainly classically inclined audience took to this cultural shift rather well — including yours truly.

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