It has been a year of ups and downs for jazz that reflected society in general. Jazz has always been a barometer as artists express the moods and needs of the public. There were many good concerts in 2002, especially the appearance of multi-Grammy-winning jazz vocalist/pianist Diana Krall, who completely wowed a maxed-out Clowes Hall audience. A sad note this year was the final concert presented by Coat & Tie Productions at the Indiana Roof, with smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James ringing down the curtain.
Jazz lost another event downtown when the American Piano Association canceled its annual fund-raiser, the Taste of Jazz in the Park festival, due to the economic downturn that effected sponsorship funds. Helen Small, APA executive director, did announce they would be back in 2003.
The Indy Jazz Fest, recuperating from the rainout of two years ago, put on an outstanding, revamped event for three days with Queen Aretha and King BB on the pop side and Arturo Sandoval opening the jazz mix, wrapped by the magnificent Dianne Reeves. It was good to see the return of the now-renamed Wes Montgomery Jazz Festival downtown at Canal and St. Clair streets. The impact of Sept. 11 also was felt in the jazz community through patriotic recordings by Lisa Baldwin, Greg Bacon and Larry Calland in remembrance of the victims.
There were new ventures offering jazz around town. The Cozy initiated Smooth Jazz Tuesdays and Sundays. Ruth"s Chris Steakhouse downtown now offers Sizzling Steaks & Jazz, and The Elbow Room offers a Sunday Jazz Brunch.
The mainstay clubs like the Jazz Kitchen settled into successful formulas, featuring a diverse mix of jazz, including both local and national touring acts. In addition, the Jazz Kitchen added a house band with the unique name of 7 Pleasures for funk and acid jazz to complement its popular Latin Dance Night. One welcome new feature was the long-awaited completion of the Jazz Kitchen"s expansion for dining and listening.
The Chatterbox continued its role of giving new jazz groups a stage to present their music while keeping its straight ahead jazz regulars on board. A major coup for jazz lovers, especially in the big band or orchestral setting, is the residency of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra for its concert series at the Indiana Historical Society.
CD releases of note by local artists in '02 came from Michael Brown, Beeblebrox, Everett Greene, Simon Rowe, Brenda Williams, Janiece Jaffe and Marvin Chandler with the Jack Gilfoy Quartet.
Weekly summer outdoor concerts at the Indianapolis Zoo's Animals and All That Jazz, the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Concerts on the Terrace and the Indiana Historical Society's Concerts on the Canal drew high attendance in spite of summer heat.
2002, from a jazz perspective, would have to be considered a year of renewal and makeover, gaining a larger segment of public awareness and support to lead into the new year.