Indy Jazz Fest goes virtual with “Celebrate Naptown” online concert series

Joey Amato | October 6, 2020

Now celebrating more than 20 years as a mainstay in the Indianapolis arts and culture scene, the annual Indy Jazz Fest, the premier event of the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation, returns in 2020 as an all-virtual four-part concert series beginning Friday, November 13. With a continued focus on celebrating the legacy of jazz, modern masters and the discovery of new jazz stars, the revised approach will serve to sustain ongoing support for the Indianapolis jazz scene, especially in these challenging times.

“The year 2020 has produced a multitude of emotions,” said David Allee, Indy Jazz Fest Director and owner of The Jazz Kitchen. “These works will provide an emotional look at the way these artists’ mentors and society have affected their artistry. Ultimately, we view these concerts and commissions as the perfect way to continue the crucial support of our artists right here in Indianapolis as we continue to navigate through the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, racial tensions, and a year of introspection.”

These online concerts will be released free of charge and viewers will be asked to consider a donation to help reach the overall fundraising goal of $25,000. The online concerts will be available for viewing online at and via the organizations’ Facebook Live and YouTube platforms.

The lineup includes:

  • Friday, November 13 – 8 p.m.
    “Celebrate Naptown All-Star Show”
    Recorded at the historic Garfield Park, this all-star mash-up features more than 25 of Indy’s best jazz performers, a great snapshot of the modern day contribution to Indy’s rich jazz legacy.
  • Saturday, November 14 – 8 p.m.
    Native Sun – “Legalize Being Black”
    The hip-hop trio featuring Richard Floyd (drums) Brandon Meeks (bass) and Bobby Young (MC) present a hip-hop/jazz suite titled “Legalize Being Black.” Their compositions will address the Black Lives Matter movement and the worldwide recent protests of police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
  • Friday, November 20 – 8 p.m.
    Charlie Ballantine – “Vonnegut”
    In partnership with the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library, Charlie Ballantine will present the performance and unveiling of his latest recording of original compositions inspired by the works of celebrated Indianapolis writer Kurt Vonnegut.
  • Saturday, November 21 – 8 p.m.
    Jared Thompson & Premium Blend – “38th and Post Modernism”
    Jared Thompson & Premium Blend present an original music suite that addresses the complex narrative of systemic racism as it pertains to the black communities in Indianapolis today.

“Though we are not able to operate as normal in this COVID-19 environment, the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation remains unwavering in its commitment to keep our Indianapolis jazz musicians creating,” said Rob Dixon, Indy Jazz Fest Artistic & Education Director. “We have commissioned three accomplished Indy-based musicians to write, perform, and record (for virtual viewing) original music that reflects the subject matter of these uncertain and difficult times. We are confident that we will enable these musicians and their bands to create and express profound artistic statements through the medium of jazz that will have a lasting and impactful effect on Indianapolis and the world.”

“It’s an incredible opportunity to create a project that captures an unprecedented time in this country and in our city,” said musician Jared Thompson, whose “38th and Post Modernism” work is scheduled for November 21 at 8 p.m. “To be able to do this as a true artist collective is the greatest responsibility and artistic fulfillment I’ve had in my career thus far. We expanded our existing catalogue and used that music as the soundtrack for a mini-documentary that speaks to the myriad of issues that has made 2020 so polarizing. We wanted to amplify the voices of Indy’s arts community because artists rarely get the opportunity to directly articulate how and why they create, inspire, and reflect the environment in which they live.”

How to support Indy Jazz Fest in 2020:
Indy Jazz Fest is committed to ensuring that this music is heard throughout the community and will offer these new virtual concerts to the public free of charge. However, without the support of ticket sales, patrons who are able to contribute financially are encouraged to donate and help support this year’s festival efforts. Here’s how you can help:

  • Tune in to this year’s Indy Jazz Fest four-part virtual concert series starting November 13
  • Donate online at

Please visit for more info.