Harry Miedema, the University of Indianapolis director of jazz studies, is launching a week of jazz Monday, Feb. 25-Saturday March 1. All performances will be held in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall of the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center on the campus. “I started working on this almost a year ago. I realized it was going to be a planning nightmare to get that many people here on the nights that I wanted them,” Miedema said.
Monday night, Miedema’s Bossa Rio Sextet will open the week; Tuesday night, Feb. 26, the 17-piece UIndy Jazz Ensemble with guest soloists will perform. Concerts both nights are at 7:30 p.m. and free to the public.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, Indiana jazz legend/educator saxophonist Jamey Abersold returns with his quartet featuring Steve Allee on piano. Thursday, Feb. 28, trombonist Vaughan Weister brings in his 17-piece Famous Big Band, with unusual instrumentation, from Columbus, Ohio.
The UIndy Jazz Festival of high school bands from around the city and state will start its two-day sessions Friday, Feb. 29 from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, March 1 the bands will perform from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Now in its 11th year, Miedema was asked how this event came about. “The reason I started this is, I wanted to have a non-competitive festival. I wanted the high school students to receive a clinic from the professionals that listen to them. Saturday’s sessions from 8a.m.-5 p.m. are free and open to the public.” Friday night, the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra will perform original arrangements.
It’s been over two decades since Indianapolis native and renowned big band drummer John Von Ohlen has led a big band in his hometown. Von Ohlen brings his award-winning Blue Wisp Big Band to UIndy’s Jazz Week Saturday, March 1. The Blue Wisp Big Band was formed in 1980 in Cincinnati. Thirteen of the original 16 players still play Wednesday nights at Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp club. Von Ohlen’s swinging drum technique earned him rave reviews when he played in the bands of Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. Von Ohlen was inducted into Cincinnati’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
All concerts Wednesday to Saturday start at 7:30 p.m. with an admission fee of $10 for adults and $5 for seniors (65 and older); students are free with ID.
Another legendary Indy jazz drummer, “Killer” Ray Appleton and his Quartet, returns to the Jazz Kitchen Saturday, Feb. 23. Shows are at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
A jazz memorial will be held Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Jazz Kitchen for Charlie Smith from 3-6 p.m., which is open to the public