Festivals are challenging — so are editors. "Choose ten out of 26," they tell you — all sterling programs or they wouldn't be on the roster. How to choose? Tempting criteria: free, or low cost, close by, easy to park, this is the only time I'll get to experience this program live, it's my favorite style, it's the instrument I relate to. Disclaimers: I'm partial to jazz saxophone, I dislike parking Downtown, like most of us I'm on a tight budget.
No-brainers are free opening and closing nights — Sept. 11 at UIndy with the Indy Jazz Fest Band and along Mass Ave. with a potpourri of players; same on the 20 at Jazz Kitchen and Yats Block Party. Free Sept. 14 – 19 PubCreep programs allow for some double dipping because of flexible time slots and venue proximity to other programs.
After that making choices gets hard. But here goes:
1. Claire Daly
Sept 12, at Jazz Kitchen
Playing at the Walker, Maceo Parker is a legend, jazz singer Sara Gazarek and baritone sax player Claire Daly are rising stars. I opt for Daly and her three co-players because that'll be a totally new experience for me.
2. Gust Spenos and His Band
Sept. 13, at Jazz Kitchen
Indy's own Josh Kaufman is home and hopefully he'll come back; Gazarek's on again and it's hard leaving her out; but I gravitate to the blues and the saxophones offered by Gust Spenos and Wycliffe Gordon and their sidemen.
3. Steve Turre
Sept. 14, Musica Cubana at Indianapolis Central Library; Steve Turre Quintet at
Indiana Landmarks Center
Scheduling allows getting to trombonist Steve Turre who is honoring J.J. Johnson (who would have turned 90 this year), and Musica Cubana showcasing Cuban jazz; but it's a stretch to also catch the three-pronged PubCreep program in Speedway. Luckily the hometown favorites, including Farrelly Markiewicz Jazz Quartet, Weirich-Murray Band and The Butler University Jazz Combo show up throughout the year.
4. Brian Nova and the Stan Hillis Quartet
Sept. 15, at Jazz Kitchen
It's possible to start at Sun King's PubCreep at 6:15 to hear Tad Robinson and scoot up north to the Jazz Kitchen for the 9 p.m. show featuring 2013 IJF favorite — jazz guitarist Brian Nova and the Stan Hillis Quartet.
5. Phil Ranelin Quintet
Sept. 16, at the Jazz Kitchen
The J.J. Johnson tribute continues with the Phil Ranelin Quintet. See Kyle Long's interview with Ranelin on page 31.
6. Rob Dixon and Indianapolis Jazz
Collective, stefon harris, cynthia layne
Sept. 17, at the IMA
Indy soul artist Bashiri Asad offers a tribute to Maya Angelou alongside Richard "Sleepy" Floyd, Brandon Meeks, Too Black, Januarie York, Theon Lee and Mathew Davis. Elsewhere, the newly formed Rob Dixon & the Indianapolis Jazz Collective adds guest jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris; the double bill includes the Cynthia Layne Band on the IMA Terrace. I'm with them. I'll hug Maya in my heart and catch up some other time with Bashiri Asad.
7. Grace Kelly Quartet
Sept. 18, at Apparatus
I'm missing the inspiring Butler University Faculty Jazz Quintet because I opt for the chance to hear the up-and-coming youthful singer-saxophonist-composer Grace Kelly appearing with her Quartet. I can catch a bit of Cynthia Layne at the Broad Ripple Brewpub PubCreep site, and hope the Butler profs will play another time.
8. Gospel Jazz Experience
Sept. 19, at Latitude 360
Absolute hardest choice was made for me by editor requesting a review of the innovative Gospel Jazz Experience; I'm missing trumpet virtuoso Tom Harrell showcasing his own compositions with his own band, also missing singer-songwriter Yvette Landry reaching toward stardom and saxophonist Sophie Faught at the PubCreep site at Outlier's. Maybe some people I'm missing will show up at the Block Party.