1. Introduction

reginald duvalle, sr. and his blackbirds

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).

4 Responses to “1. Introduction”

  1. Normand Townley Says:

    Having attended an intro Jazz history class by Monica Herzig, I was introduced for the first time to this rich history of Jazz in Indianapolis and to the facinating contribution of Indiana Avemue, Crispus Attucks High School, and the great musicians that came from that influence.

    Jazz is an evolutionary art, will continue to be, but it’s is important to preserve that heritage and the music both in print and in live entertainment. Your efforts to publicize this and promote are to be applauded.

    Thank you for your past and continued work.

    • David Leander Williams Says:

      Hello Normand: Indiana Avenue jazz drummer great, Al Coleman and I presented an Indiana Avenue jazz history presentation for Monika Herzog’s Jazz History class at IUPUI last summer. It was a wonderful experience seeing the enthusiasm and intense interest in Indiana Avenue jazz displayed by the students. I mentioned that I was completing a book on the general and entertainment history of Indiana Avenue from 1821-1960. I have over 120 biographical sketches or entertainers of all genres who graced the Avenue during this period. The book will be delivered to the editor shortly and hopefully book will be published in a few months. I have not chosen my publisher yet, but will keep Karen Taborn informed. Dave Williams, “History of Indiana Avenue and Its Entertainment Empire.”

  2. […] 1. Introduction April 2010 1 comment […]

  3. robert estelle Says:

    I’m so sorry Duncan is gone. he did a great service.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: