Indianoplace No Longer

      Being a native of the Circle City isn't always easy when it comes to cultural identity. Even though Indy is the 12th largest city in the nation, many artists here feel the frustrations of the "Indianoplace" stigma that has plagued us for decades. This is especially true for the jazz musician. Despite the illustrious contributions to jazz history, i.e. Indiana Avenue, Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, Dr. Willis Kirk, Dr. David Baker, Oliver Nelson, Pookie Johnson, Melvin Rhyne, and the Hampton Sisters, Indianapolis is frequently overlooked as a hub for musical prowess. We get it. Chicago is a mere three hours away, Detroit is a musical Mecca of all genres, and St. Louis isn't a city to snub either. But even after the hey-day of Indiana Avenue, "Naptown" jazz musicians have been churning out high-level records with a sense of pride and integrity that would make their bop ancestors proud.

      The following albums are just a few examples of the greatness that has come out of this city within the last 10 years; so to say that these records are the "Modern Jazz Bible" would be a woefully irresponsible statement. Some selections reflect the influence Indy Jazz has had on R&B as well as hip hop as those selections recruited some of the most prominent jazz voices in the city to bridge the gap to younger audiences. Each album/artist paints a very genuine and diverse picture of what Indianapolis jazz culture feels and sounds like. Keep in mind that this is NOT a review of the albums themselves. It's YOUR job to review the various layers of what has become the "Naptown Sound."

1. Beautiful Soul

Released in 2007 by Cynthia Layne, this is for the R&B/smooth jazz fans out there. Find it on iTunes.


2. Reinvention

Released in 2008 by The Dixon Rhyne Project. This is for crossover fans, with modern jazz and bop organist legends meeting in the middle of hard bop and contemporary. Available on iTunes.

3. Step into the light

Released in 2012 by Native Sun. This is for the hip hop fans, with jazz musicians teaming up with a notable MC to create sound for the 21st century world of hip hop. Find this album on iTunes.

4. Undeniable

Released in 2014, another gem from Native Sun. Available on Soundcloud only.

5. Dragonfly

Released in 2012 by the Steve Allee Trio and available on iTunes. Grammy-nominated Steve Allee puts Indianapolis modern jazz where it needs to be.

6. Nine is the Magic Number

Released in 2015 by The Tucker Brothers. Brothers Nick and Joel Tucker present their first album, debuting Indy's new generation of jazz musicians. Find this on Amazon.

7. The Look

Released in 2015 by Marlin McKay, trumpeter McKay flexes his composition muscles and musical sensitivity in this poignant and "classic" sounding album. Find this on iTunes.

8. Providence

Released in 2016 by Charlie Ballantine, his second album has carved his niche on the scene with unique and ethereal takes on modern jazz. Available on iTunes.

9. Basically Baker, Vol. 2

Released in 2016 by Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. This is a moving tribute to the late Dr. David Baker. The BWJO has become a fixture of the jazz community, keeping the big band era alive and well. Find this on iTunes.

10. Red, Black, Green

Released in 2016 by Brandon Meeks, one of the most sought after bassist in the city/region. His first solo album conjures the feel of Christian McBride with the social consciousness of Max Roach. Find this on Bandcamp.