Since the early days of jazz, Indianapolis has been an important point on America’s musical map. Many great jazz innovators grew up and developed their craft here, including trombonist J.J. Johnson, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and guitarist Wes Montgomery. The Indy Jazz Fest was founded in part to honor this tradition and to continue Indianapolis’ jazz legacy, bringing the best national jazz artists through town to perform and giving an outlet to Indianapolis’ local jazz scene.
Events are held at major venues throughout town, including Indianapolis’ best-known jazz venue, the Jazz Kitchen. The festival features one concert a night during the week leading up to the main event: a full day of live music at Optimist Park in Indy’s Broad Ripple neighborhood. No coolers are allowed on premises, but food vendors are available, as well as beverages by some of Indianapolis’ favorite brewpubs. Seating is general admission, so blankets are recommended, and lawn chairs (with legs under 9′ long) allowed.
There is a heavy educational element to the Indy Jazz Fest as well, due at least in part to the proximity of Indiana University, one of the nation’s most renowned jazz schools. During the festival, courses are offered in jazz improvisation and performance, including ensembles coached by local pros; additional courses deal with jazz history and the business of working in music.
Indy Jazz Fest Information
- Public Transportation: Poor; shuttle available to and from parking locations
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: One concert per evening every weekday of festival; 5-6 performances during the Festival’s main Saturday concert
- Admission: Weekdays vary: $20-$35 (with discounts for advance purchase); Saturday concert: $25 General Admission tickets.