American Legion Post 249 is taking a proactive role in supporting young local jazz musicians this year. Jerry Smith, the second vice officer of Post 249, which is located at 2523 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., explains: "We have instituted a jazz workshop featuring some ofIndianapolis's finest jazz musicians and clinicians. The participating musicians invite all of our young aspiring musicians, 18 and up, as well as seasoned veterans. We would like to create an atmosphere reminiscent of Indy's old club jam sessions, which were the training ground for many that reached national stardom and fame."
Rudolph Finnell, a retired music director at Broad Ripple High School who was inducted into the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame in 2010, co-founded the Jazz Workshop with Smith. I asked Finnell about the cost for those attending the Jazz Workshop. "There is no cost to those aspiring jazz musicians," he told me. "It's free to them."
Jazz Workshops take place the second Saturday of each month from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Robert C. Collins Hall of the post. A live jam session performance follows each workshop. Scheduled performers for the jam session include the Gary Walters Ensemble (March 12), Clifford Ratliff & The Indy Jazz Co. (April 9), Indy Jazz Men (May 14) and the John Harden Project (June 11). All sessions are free and open to the public.
New jazz venues have popped up on the near northside in recent weeks.
Sahm's Tavern, located on the ground floor of the Gibson Building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Michigan Street, now features the Bill Lancton Quartet on the first and third Fridays of the month from 8 to 11 p.m. Bluesman Gordon Bonham is holding down second and fourth Fridays. There is a five dollar cover charge.
The Bar at the Ambassador, located at the intersection of 9th Street and Pennsylvania Ave., is now hosting jazz groups on Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m. to complement its Cajun and Creole dining menu. There is no cover charge.
Jimmy McDaniels returns
A national traveling exhibition on the life of musician/humanitarian/educator Jimmy McDaniels is on display at the Crispus Attucks Museum, 1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., until February 28. McDaniels was inducted into the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation's Jazz Hall of Fame during its inaugural year of 1998 and into the national Jazz Hall of Fame in 1984. He was a driving force on the Indianapolis Jazz scene from 1977 into the '90s.
The exhibition, titled "The Leader of the Band," is coordinated by the Jimmy McDaniel's Foundation Inc., a national non-profit organization. Its mission is to provide higher educational opportunities for minority instrumentalists in Indianapolis and Birmingham, Ala. Admission is free to the public, with donations accepted for jazz scholarships at Butler University.