- Associated Press - Sunday, June 1, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The sultry sounds of saxophone haunt Indianapolis like a ghost.

Trumpet and trombone echo in downtown neighborhoods where the best jazz musicians in the world once played. Deep rhythms of bass and drum reverberate in the memories of audience members who once grooved and tapped with the beat.

The city’s jazz heritage started on downtown’s Indiana Avenue and has mostly died out.

But the style’s simmering hot spot has found a new home.

For the past 20 years, the Jazz Kitchen has offered live jazz seven nights a week, serving as an incubator for local acts and touring musicians alike.

The venue has the power to draw national headliners such as Victor Wooten and Harry Connick Jr. Jazz legends such as J.J. Johnson and Wynton Marsalis have wailed in the venue’s intimate main room.

But just as exciting for owner David Allee has been watching the growth of jazz in central Indiana.

“We want you to hang out and have a good time, but we want you to get into the jazz at the same time,” Allee told the Daily Journal in Franklin (http://bit.ly/TRi555 ). “There’s so many different styles under the jazz umbrella, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who just doesn’t like jazz. They just haven’t found one they like.”

On any night of the week, passers-by at the corner of 54th Street and College Avenue can hear the lilting sounds coming from the Jazz Kitchen.

It may be a seriously rocking jam session coming from the interior stage.

During the summer, it could be a stripped down version performed on the open-air patio. Late nights on weekends bring DJs and world music for dancing.

“We’ve found that if you give people a little bit of different kinds of music, they can find something that resonates,” Allee said.

The Jazz Kitchen was born in 1994, when Allee and a musician friend, Mike Slattery, opened the club. They had been classmates at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis and played in the jazz band together.

Allee’s father, Steve, was pianist and a fixture in the Indianapolis jazz scene.

He and Slattery were driving through Broad Ripple one day when they noticed the vacant space at the corner of 54th and College. The site had been the home of The Place to Start, a noted jazz club in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Story Continues →