Indianapolis Indeed!

September 23, 2009

IA

It’s that time again. Oh, wait. Not really. The Indy Jazz Fest, usually held in July, has moved to September.  In fact, we’re in the thick of jazz mayhem right now. And it’s divine…

The Indy Jazz Fest launched last Saturday night with a concert at Clowes Hall by famed saxophonist, Joshua Redman. Last night, I attended a record release concert featuring Mark Buselli’s Big Band at the Jazz Kitchen. And I was blown away. This is a world-class big band, smack dab in the middle of the heartland. Buselli, who also joins in on flugelhorn and trumpet, writes gorgeous arrangements of standards, contemporary jazz compositions, and orginal material. Last night, he had a 17-piece band–14 horns in all. The sound is powerful, like a wave of sparkling brass washing over you and the smile plastered on your face. Another new discovery last night was the vocalist Kelleen Strutz who joined the band for two numbers each set.  Her rendition of Angel Eyes was stunning thanks to her mix of va-va-voom 40s’ sex kitten style and dynamic vocal chops. I particularly enjoyed the moments where vocals and brass sang duet on the same harmonic line. Beautiful!

Mark Buselli

Mark Buselli

My two favorite moments, however, were the band’s renditions of two Charles Mingus tunes, Fables of Faubus and Pussy Cat Dues. The exquisite joy of hearing hard bop played big and loud by a tight orchestra–with solos by Indy’s best sax player (and up there as one of the best playing today) Rob Dixon. Was I moved? Let’s just say, there were goosebumps. And then my goosebumps had goosebumps. Afterwards, I thought this is just what I want to hear when I walk through the gates of heaven–weird, wonderful Mingus like I’ve never heard him–even if it’s just on my celestial iPod.

This weekend marks the culmination of Indy Jazz Fest–two days of live music downtown at White River State Park. On saturday (the day I wouldn’t miss) check out Soullive, Pancho Sanchez, and Branford Marsalis.  Saturday, the headliner is Marcus Miller. I saw him back in 2005 in St. Petersburg. High-energy funk.

I’ll be there both days volunteering. Let’s pray for sun!

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