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Freddie Hubbard Memorial Jazz Fest honors Indy's rich history of Black music and culture

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Posted at 10:59 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 23:30:12-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Arsenal Tech is all about that jazz.

Indianapolis Public Schools students participated in the Second Annual Freddie Hubbard Memorial Jazz Fest on Friday.

The noncompetitive festival honors the late jazz icon and IPS graduate.

“It’s a culture. It’s more than about the music. It’s really about the culture," professional drummer Richard 'Sleepy' Floyd said.

Floyd wants to uplift the next generation of musicians and remind them that jazz history is intrinsically Black history.

“Learning the traditions. The musicians, the history of the music. And that’s what makes Jazz so unique, because it has such a rich history that can be traced to many different locations across the United States," he said.

Bands from high schools throughout Indiana and nationally renowned jazz musicians performed at Arsenal Technical High School.

Hubbard actually began his legendary career by playing the trumpet in the school’s band.

It's something that inspires Crispus Attucks High School sophomore Jaci Flores.

“Music…I just can’t live without it, honestly," the aspiring jazz singer said. “I wish that one day I get to the point where I am and do have the ability to scat.”

For Flores, the day was all about learning to get over her nerves, fear and stage fright.

“It never goes away. You just have to mentally prepare yourself that you’re gonna do this and you know, you’re gonna have to be okay doing it," she said.

At a time when gun violence and crime in Indianapolis create darkness for IPS students, Arsenal Tech Director of Bands Josh Goodman says music programs can be the light.

“We’re giving them an outlet of somewhere to be and to be around really supportive peers and role models at school as well," Goodman said.

He says IPS has a rich history that needs to be preserved and expanded upon.

“Where IPS is and where we’re trying to get to, we’re trying to build this district stronger. That’s the whole thing with Rebuilding Stronger — honoring the past and building on that for the future," he said.

All proceeds from the festival support the Tech Jazz Band for future trips, sheet music and scholarships.