Dixon and his band play their smooth tunes at Eagle Creek Park.
The Adventures of Abby
Jazz names at Eagle Creek

It’s been about a week and a half since the official start of summer, but in many ways summer doesn’t really get the green light for me until there are a healthy number of live music events on my calendar. And free is always a bonus! Since my graduate classes at IUPUI wrapped up, I’ve yet to park it at The Chatterbox (gasp!) but I did manage to make the short drive from my house over to Eagle Creek Park Wednesday for my first visit to their outdoor music series. Last week’s edition: Jazz on the Point.

Armed with some friends, a blanket, bottles of water and a box of Lucky Charms, I was pleasantly greeted by the familiar tree-lined drive into the park and a parking lot full of vehicles. Sometimes I forget how much I love and need to be away in the woods, but on this occasion it was great to see a full house. However, it wasn’t solely by car that fellow jazz-lovers arrived at the venue overlooking Eagle Creek Reservoir. I saw runners stop by with their dogs, folks pulling up in kayaks and canoes, bicycles and lucky kiddos being pulled in bicycle trailers.

As we settled into our spot I attempted to make friends with a pair of dogs at a neighboring blanket that appeared interested in our arrival. Maybe it’s because my dog is living with my parents and I miss that crazy, long-hair shedding pooch, but I always find myself making googly eyes at the dogs at these events the way some people “ooh” and “ahh” over babies. It’s also nice to see dogs out in public in our city. Dogs seem to make things more relaxed and fun, I think!

Two dogs watch attentively at the Jazz concert at Eagle Creek Park.

On stage Wednesday was the Rob Dixon Quartet. A nationally-recognized saxophonist, Dixon and his collaborators played from 6:30 until about 8:45 and dazzled the crowd with soulful organ and horn solos. Drummer Richard “Sleepy” Floyd was a crowd favorite and Dixon verified that distinction by sharing that Floyd, a Kokomo native, received a surprisingly massive round of applause and shouts at a show in Logansport. “He’s a celebrity!” Dixon boomed through the mic with a laugh.

Heck with celebrity, I just thought the idea of a jazz nickname was pretty rad. My friends and I contemplated the origins of jazz nicknames as folks around us continued to hoot and holler and frequently shout with gusto “Go Sleepy!” Sleepy. What about the names of the Seven Dwarves? Nobody wants to be Dopey or Grumpy, but we decided that everyone needs a jazz nickname! “How about fuzzy?” Kate suggested, referring to our young canine friend next door chewing on a dry, tasty-looking tree branch. Back at home I hopped online and checked out a blog that suggested the best jazz nicknames are anagrams of your actual name. In that case, I’d go with “Lazy Be Bit.” Sounds like someone could scat with that name!

About mid-way through the show, against my better judgment , I grabbed one of those tempting ice cream treats. You know. The ones wrapped in bright yellow paper with tantalizing images of the chipwich inside. How could I say no to $1.87 ice cream? Mmmm. It was 91 degrees in the shade, after all.

Dixon’s amiable personality and crowd interaction enhanced my appreciation of the night overall, for sure. I delight in knowing the stories behind the music, and the original tune “2212” is the soundtrack for parasailing, according to the front man. “This would be my theme music,” Dixon explained to the crowd smoothly. “It’s exciting for about 20 seconds and then it’s boring.” Another original composition was inspired by the intonation of a train pulling into its station, somewhere in Russia. “That’s my joint, the part I hear in my head.”

A crowd of people sit and listen while the sun sets at Eagle Creek Park.

Apart from offering a great look at natural elements, first-rate music and a chance for the community to come together and relax, Eagle Creek Park’s real achievement with Wednesday music nights is promoting Indy Parks and Recreation as a collective. I’m hoping the city will begin to place parks on high priority. According to recently released rankings of the 40 largest U.S. cities, Indianapolis landed at #36 overall. The rankings, released by The Trust for Public Land, consider population and acreage as well as the amount of money spent by the city for services and investment. Just 4.8 percent of the city’s land is dedicated to parks and $43.61 is spent per resident on park services. The robust turnout for Wednesday’s Jazz on the Point is evidence enough for me that Indy residents (and visitors) are looking for more and more opportunities to visit the parks.

Concerts are going all summer long at Eagle Creek. Check the schedule and let us know when you are going.

what's your jazz name?