Community Things to Do

Your Guide to the Indy Jazz Fest 2023

Photo Provided: Zionsville Monthly Magazine

Jazz has been described as a musical form of pure American artistry. Rooted in both blues and ragtime, jazz is filled with soulful melodies and an improvisational spirit that transcends time and distance. Jazza seamlessly blends the old and the new and has captivated musicians and audiences alike for more than 100 years.

For a quarter of a century now, the Indy Jazz Fest has been a cornerstone of the city’s cultural calendar, growing in both size and popularity to the point where it is now a major draw for jazz enthusiasts from all corners of the nation. 

Once a modest event that was confined to a single day, Indy Jazz Fest has evolved into a multi-day experience that showcases a whole range of styles by local and internationally known artists alike – and it’s all out there for you to take in. 

Even if you’ve never listened to jazz before in your life, this event is for you – newcomers are as welcome as jazz aficionados. In fact, Jazz Fest is designed to give the genre a broader public exposure. In the words of Director David Allee, “The ability to offer a wide range of jazz styles during Indy Jazz Fest meets the core mission of the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation in attracting new audiences to the jazz idiom.”

Where Is It? When Is It?

Organized by the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation, Indy Jazz Fest 2023 runs from Sept. 18 to Sept. 30 – and its venue consists of locations all over the city. Tickets have been on sale to the general public for all events since July 21, so grab your calendar and check out the event schedule below to decide which shows you want to see the most. Space is limited, so you will need to snap up the tickets to your favorite performances as soon as possible.

One of the standout features of the Indy Jazz Fest is its choice of venue. The festival is held at various locations throughout Indianapolis, both indoors and out, including iconic venues like the Jazz Kitchen, the Indianapolis Arts Garden and The Cabaret (formerly the American Cabaret Theatre) in the historic downtown Metzger Building. 

Attendees love that each night is a little bit different, every show is unique and every location brings its own charm to the festival. All of these factors create a uniquely immersive atmosphere that enhances the overall experience for everybody.

Who Is Playing? What’s the Lineup?

Since where you go and who you can see varies by the night, it’s always best to check the lineup and location when you buy your tickets, but here are some of the scheduled events:

The Sunset Series is an eclectic mix of nighttime concerts in some of Indy’s most intimate jazz clubs and cabarets. The schedule includes:

  • Sept. 18-19: Celebrated vocalist Veronica Swift at The Cabaret, 8 p.m.
  • Sept. 20: Grammy-nominated Christian Sands at The Jazz Kitchen, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 21: Traditional Afro-Cuban superstar Pedrito Martinez at The Jazz Kitchen, 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 24: Amazing singer Lizz Wright at The Cabaret, 7 p.m.
  • Sept 24: Innovative musician Andrew Danforth at The Jazz Kitchen, 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept 27: Indy’s homegrown Russell Malone & the Indy Jazz Collective at The Jazz Kitchen, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Sept 29: The heart of “Indy-Soul,” Bashirit Asad at The Jazz Kitchen, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

There’s also Naptown Sound, the Official Indy Jazz Fest Kick-Off Celebration, presented by Van Riper-Woodard Family Foundation on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 8 p.m. to Midnight at The Jazz Kitchen. 

This is the “ultimate jazz hang,” where guests can mingle, enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and listen to notable performances by The Tucker Brothers, “From the 317” Band, VocalEase Jazz Set, The Blue Side, Pavel & Friends and – of course – the Indianapolis Jazz Collective.

What About the Grand Finale?

The Grand Finale, on Sept. 30, will be held at the TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park (801 W. Washington St.). The doors open promptly at 3 p.m., and the lineup includes:

  • The Indy Jazz Legacy Band, which is filled with local all-stars, including Rob Dixon on the sax.
  • Boney Jame, with his fusion of jazz, rhythm and blues and funk music that has established him as a luminary fixture in the contemporary music scene.
  • Sheila E. and the E-Train, whose electrifying presence on stage and tremendous talent have cemented them as iconic performers who can absolutely ignite an audience. 
  • Stanley Clark N 4Ever, with their soul-spinning fusion of jazz and funk and a penchant for pushing the boundaries of all genres.

This is truly a “must-see” for anyone who wants to build memories around exceptional live music experiences.

A Few Final Thoughts and a Hot Take on This Celebration

The Indy Jazz Fest is more than just a music festival; it’s a celebration of freedom, creativity and the unifying power of music. It brings together people from all walks of life to share in the joy of jazz, fostering a sense of community and belonging as unique as the music itself. 

Whether you’re a seasoned jazz enthusiast or someone looking to dip their toes into the genre, the Indy Jazz Fest offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the art form and the city that hosts it. So, mark your calendars, and get ready to groove to the rhythms of freedom at the upcoming Indy Jazz Fest!