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.

Indianapolis Event Combines Art and Activism

      This August at the Madame Walker Theater, artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and activists alike will take the stage to discuss a system that has been built on a foundation of anti-blackness. While this event will include the deconstruction of this system, all of the proceeds from ticket sales are going straight back into communities that need reconstruction. 

      Premium Blend's own Jared Thompson, alongside his brother Joshua, will be taking the stage, joining a long list of talented performers. With speakers, artists, and musicians from every walk of life, The Wake sets out to bring the community together and raise awareness on topics like education inequity, food insecurity, and police brutality. A part of the program will be dedicated to eulogies for those who have been lost, and to loosely quote the description written on eventbrite, the focus will be to talk about their life and light, humanizing these people once again. 

To learn more about The Wake, you can follow DONT SLEEP on facebook and purchase tickets through eventbrite below. Proceeds will benefit Green For All, GRoE, Inc., Bloom Project, Inc., and Sisters United.

Inspired by 

Christina Sharpe

NUVO's Kyle Long on "The Road",

Take a sneak peek at Kyle Long and Jared Thompson sitting down to discuss "The Road".

Kyle: Since we're talking about great poets I want to ask about the closing track from your new album  The Road, “Conveyor Belt Dreams" which features the voice of a brilliant multi-talented artist, poet and rapper Theon Lee.

Conveyor Belt Dreams” hits on everything from the struggles of women, and Black women, of Black men, of gay men both black and white. It touches on a very culturally sensitive topic that unfortunately does not go out of style. This piece could’ve worked 60 years ago, and here’s hoping that this piece will not be as relevant 50 years from now. That’s always the dream, and that’s the conveyor belt that we’re on.
— Jared Thompson