This web page acknowledges jazz in Indiana from a broad perspective of “jazz community” encompassing those who play(ed) active roles as jazz musicians with those who perform(ed) supportive and supplementary roles alike. Indiana jazz scholars.(1)
document the wealth of extraordinary talent that has emanated from the State through the 20th into the 21st century including world renowned musicians, Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, Hoagie Carmichael, Freddie Hubbard, Slide Hampton and David Baker and numerous jazz musicians who are worthy of worldwide recognition who maintained largely local or regional careers and statures.(2) The concept of “why Indiana” as well as “how” Indiana played a significant role in creating an exceptionally high standard of jazz performance through community interaction is the focus of this web page. Although the development of jazz in the State stretched beyond a century, a zenith period may be spoken of during the 1940s-50s during the height of jazz clubs and businesses on Indianapolis’ Indiana Avenue. A combination of features fell in to place including a nurturing and caring environment fostered through the African American educators at the racially segregated Crispus Attucks High School; the commonality of intergenerational relationships and passing down jazz as a family tradition; the central location of Indianapolis, situated at the crossroads between the other regions of the United States, and a close-knit, local community in which jazz musicians and supporters knew each other from youth through their senior years. Lifelong connections among musicians bonded the Indianapolis jazz community and set it apart from places like the large magnet coastal cities where jazz musicians gravitated and met one another as young or established professionals to set up working relations anew.
The information in this web page is intended to initiate discussion on jazz community rather than cover all the individuals and venues that are worthy of recognition. With this in mind, visitors are invited to add their own stories of Indiana jazz community in a blog at the end of the web page.
1. For example, see Duncan Schiedt (1977), David Brent Johnson (2007a, 2007b), Richard Sudhalter (2002), May (2005), and David Williams (2007).
2. For a more comprehensive list of jazz musicians from Indianapolis see a dvd recording of Willis Kirk’s (Indianapolis drummer) presentation at Butler University on Oct. 10, 2009, archived at The Crispus Attucks Museum).