Indy Jazz Fest announces line-up

Now celebrating 20 years as a mainstay in the Indianapolis arts and culture scene, the annual Indy Jazz Fest returns in 2018 with a 10-day lineup celebrating the legacy of jazz, modern masters, and the discovery of new jazz stars. Indy Jazz Fest returns this year with “The Big Beat” to celebrate and honor the spirit of Art Blakey. This year’s festival features Jazz new stars, Indianapolis’ notable performers, and award winning national acts.

Variety of venues

Indy Jazz Fest will once again be in venues “All Around Town” September 13-22, featuring performances at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, The Jazz Kitchen, IUPUI Campus Center, Indianapolis Central Library, The Cabaret, The Athenaeum, Daredevil Brewing Co. in Speedway, and Shortridge High School’s Caleb Mills Auditorium.

About Art Blakey

Art Blakey had an album called The Big Beat, and we think of Indy Jazz Fest as coming from the same place as Art Blakey,” said David Allee, Festival Director. “Art Blakey was a nurturer. It was Art Blakey who first brought us Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Timmons, and many other musicians we revere now. Even more contemporary musicians like Terence Blanchard and Wynton Marsalis went through the school of Art Blakey. Art Blakey nurtured a lot of musicians, and when we look at the festival, we value the ability to present both the notable names in jazz alongside musicians who deserve greater notoriety.”

Jazz Fest line-up

Thursday, September 13 | 7:00 p.m.
IJF Band | Tribute to Freddie Hubbard
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Friday, September 14 | 7:30 pm
Howard Lopez-Nussa Trio | Oscar Micheli Trio – DOUBLE BILL 
Latin Jazz Piano
The Jazz Kitchen 5377 N. College Ave.
Yats5363 N. College Ave.
Harold López-Nussa’s music reflects the full range and richness of Cuban music, with its distinctive combination of classical, folkloric, and popular elements, as well as its embrace of jazz improvisation and interaction.
The Oscar Micheli Trio blends intimate Pan-Dominican rhythms with many Jazz styles, which in turn gives them a warm sophisticated elegant mixture of sounds.

  • Saturday, September 15 | 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
    IUPUI Jazz ConNEXT
    IUPUI Campus Center 420 University Blvd.

Tickets: FREE | All ages event

    • IUPUI Jazz Ensemble – 3:00 p.m.
    • Indy Jazz Fest Jazz Futures – 4:00 p.m.
    • Indiana All-State Jazz Band featuring saxophonist Tim Warfield – 4:45 p.m.

Heartland Trio – Hannah Marks (bass), Barclay Moffitt (sax), Rocky Martin (drums) – 6:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, September 15 | 7:30 & 10:00 p.m
    Billy Childs Quartet featuring Steve Wilson | Pianist & Winner of the 2018 Grammy for Best Instrumental Album
    The Jazz Kitchen 5377 N. College Ave.
    Tickets: $40-50 | 21+
    Billy Childs has emerged as one of the foremost American composers of his era, perhaps the most distinctly American composer since Aaron Copland – for like Copland, he has successfully married the musical products of his heritage with the Western neoclassical traditions of the twentieth century in a powerful symbiosis of style, range, and dynamism.


Saturday, September 15 | 8:00 p.m.
Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles
IPS Shortridge High School – Caleb Mills Auditorium  3401 N. Meridian St.
Tickets: $40-60 | all ages event
A Brooklyn native, Henry may be best known for his role in Snarky Puppy, the instrumental jazz-pop orchestra hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the more versatile groups on the planet right now.” He’s won a pair of GRAMMY Awards for his work with the band since 2012, but Henry’s deft keyboard skills have been blowing minds around the world for more than two decades now. At six, he made his debut at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, and at nineteen, he joined the touring band of jazz icon Kenny Garrett. Since then, he’s toured or recorded with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and The Roots to P. Diddy and Yolanda Adams in addition to cracking the Top 10 on Billboard’s Jazz charts with a pair of solo albums. NPR called him “a master” and said his “musical charisma is a match for a nearly 400 pound organ,” while Keyboard Magazine dubbed his playing “soulful, church-y, playful, restrained, and virtuosic,” and The Boston Globe raved that “if anyone’s going to preach the gospel of the Hammond organ, it should be Cory Henry.”


Sunday, September 16 | 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Pavel & Direct Contact | Puerto Rico Edition
Indianapolis Central Library 40 E. Saint Clair St.
Tickets: FREE | All ages event
In 2014, the Indy Jazz Fest began exploring different cultures across the globe and uniquely portraying them in individual 90-minute musical shows. This tradition is ongoing, and the Indy Jazz Fest has continued to captivate Hoosier audiences and visiting spectators with the thrilling, eclectic sounds from world cultures. Each 90-minute immersive experience is a whirlwind of energizing music, dancing, visuals, and storytelling. This cultural awareness program upholds the jazz festival’s belief that music, as a universal language, has the power to spread cultural awareness and connect people everywhere.
Sunday, September 16 | 7:00 & 9:00 p.m.
WOW featuring Tim Warfield, Eddie Bayard, Rob Dixon, Kendall Carter, James Gaiters
The Jazz Kitchen 5377 N. College Ave.
Tickets: $25-35 | 21+
WOW is an incredible collection of 3 of the finest tenor saxophonists on the planet. Watch as they go for the jugular in the amicable, cutting session. Saxophonist Tim Warfield (Philly), Eddie Bayard (Columbus) & Rob Dixon (Indy) join forces with B3 swinger Kendall “Keys” Carter (Louisville) and drummer James Gaiters (Columbus). An electrifying evening of straight-ahead swingin’ tenor.
Sunday, September 16 | 6:30 p.m.
Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro | Amanda Gardier – DOUBLE BILL
The Cabaret 924 N. Pennsylvania St.
Tickets: $40-60 | all ages event
At Indy Jazz Fest 2018, clarinet superstar Anat Cohen joins forces with cutting edge Brazilian ensemble “Trio Brasileiro” to explore Brazil’s traditional Choro music and its modern reflections.
Saxophonist, recording artist, and composer Amanda Gardier is based out of Indianapolis, IN, where she performs regularly as a bandleader, session musician, pit musician, and sideman. Amanda releases her debut album as a band leader title Empathy in August 2018.
Tuesday, September 18 | 7:00 & 9:30 p.m.
Rayford Griffin’s Reflections of Brownie
The Jazz Kitchen 5377 N. College Ave.
Tickets: $25-35 | 21+
World class drummer Rayford Griffin’s tribute to his uncle, the late great trumpeter Clifford Brown is blending the old with the new. This contemporary jazz offering re-imagines and updates the Clifford Brown classics and other titles from the hard bop era.
Wednesday, September 19 | 6:30 p.m.
The Blue Side | Charlie Ballantine – DOUBLE BILL
The Jazz Kitchen5377 N. College Ave.
A double bill of jazz with a soulful, rootsy, bluesy slant straight from the Heartland. The Blue Side features vocalists Tad Robinson and Gordon Bonham, Rob Dixon (saxophone), Kevin Anker (keys), Kenny Phelps (drums), and Reggie Bishop (keys).
Charlie Ballantine is fresh off his newly released CD “Where’s My Mind” and will bring a taste of jazz, blues, Americana, roots, and more. Named Indianapolis’ “Best Jazz Musician” of 2015 & 16 by NUVO Magazine, his music stems from the traditions of folk, jazz, and blues music, with influences such as Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Wes Montgomery, and Jimi Hendrix.

Wednesday, September 19 | 7:30 p.m.
Larry Carlton | 4x Grammy Winner and 19x Grammy Nominee
The Athenaeum401 E. Michigan St.
Nineteen-time Grammy nominee, four-time Grammy winner, and all-time guitar great, Larry Carlton established himself from his first recording, A Little Help From My Friends. His studio credits include musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and literally dozens of others.

  • Friday, September 21 | 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
    Jazz in Speedway

Daredevil Brewing Co.– 1151 N. Main St., Speedway

Tickets: FREE | All ages event

    • Farrelly Markiewicz Jazz Quintet – 6-7:30 pm.
    • Bill Lancton / Jimmy Davis Band – 8-10 p.m.

The Town of Speedway is living up to its moniker “Speedway, More Than a Day in May.” This year’s musical offering includes two of Indy’s top groups on a beautiful outdoor stage in front of Daredevil Brewery. Two of the performers, Gene Markiewicz and Bill Lancton, are both Indianapolis jazz hall-of-famers.


Friday, September 21 | 7:30 & 10:00 p.m.
Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers
The Jazz Kitchen5377 N. College Ave.
Tickets: $40-50 | 21+
One of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000.
Friday, September 21 | 8:00 p.m.
Steve Allee Big Band featuring Sean Jones – Tribute to Freddie Hubbard
The Cabaret 924 N. Pennsylvania St.

An exciting marriage of Indy’s best with one of the hottest trumpet stars on the planet, Sean Jones – all in honor of the legendary Indy native, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Expect a dash of tunes made by or made famous by Freddie Hubbard and the creative sounds and compositions by pianist and composer Steve Allee.

  • Saturday, September 22 | 3 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
    IJF Block Party 2018 – 13 Bands on 2 Stages
    The Jazz Kitchen5377 N. College Ave.
    Yats5363 N. College Ave.
    Tickets – $25 in advance, $30 at the door | 21+
    Closing night celebration with music inside and out on the corner of 54th Street and College Avenue. Join us for food, drinks and great music.

Outside Yats Stage:

    • Kenny Phelps Experience – 3:15 p.m.
    • Charlie Ballantine – Life is Brief, The Music of Bob Dylan – 4:30 p.m.
    • Kevin Anker & Tad Robinson – 5:45 p.m

Tucker Brothers – Nick Tucker, Joel Tucker, Brian Yarde, Sean Imboden

    • Premium Blend – Jared Thompson, Ryan Taylor, Steven Jones, Brian Yarde – 8:15 p.m.
    • Bashiri Asad & Xenobia Green – 9:30 p.m


            Inside TJK Stage:

    • Avenue Indy featuring Rachel Caswell – Jeff Conrad, Rich Cohen, Larry Sauer – 3:45 p.m.
    • Ball State Sextet – Mark Buselli, Freddie Mendoza, Scott Routenberg, Cassius Goens, Nick Tucker – 5:00 p.m.
    • Dave Stryker Organ Trio – 6:15 p.m.
    • Steve Allee Trio featuring Sophie Faught and Frank Glover – 7:30 p.m.
    • The Rad Trads – 8:45 p.m.
    • Clint Breeze and The Groove – 10:00 p.m.
    • Pavel & Proyecto 54 Salsa Band 11:15 p.m.


Tickets and information

Tickets for the 2018 Indy Jazz Fest are available at

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