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Indy-based jazz musician to serve as Inaugural artist in residence at IUPUI

Rob Dixon is a saxophonist, musician, educator, and the "Musical Mayor of Indianapolis." (Provided Photo/Rob Dixon via Facebook.)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A renowned Indianapolis-based jazz musician will be the inaugural artist in residence for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years at IUPUI Center for Africana Studies and Culture in the School of Liberal Arts.

Rob Dixon, a tenor saxophonist who moved to the top of the New York City jazz scene before moving back to Indianapolis in 2003, will serve as an adjunct professor at IUPUI, according to a news release issued on Tuesday.

In this new role, Dixon will also serve as an ambassador for the center and promote the proliferation of public-facing events and creative activity as an outlet for artistic expression on campus and in the community.

The release also stated that Dixon “serves as the Artistic Director for the Indy Jazz Fest and mentors the Jazz Futures, an Indianapolis Jazz Foundation-sponsored ensemble comprised of talented high school students.”

Dixon will introduce three interactive public lectures that frame the history of jazz music and its founding within a Black historical context.

CASC Presents Salon Noir Series with Rob Dixon

Jazz in the 21st century

Dixon will lead a youth-focused series of interactive activities titled Jazz in the 21st Century with Indianapolis Public School students and in conjunction with an Africana Studies/CASC faculty member. This will include an interactive jazz performance program designed for school-aged children, and a booklet written by Dixon and Africana Studies faculty for school-aged students on jazz as Cultural Heritage.

MusicLife Series

This audience-interactive jazz performance program is designed to take the audience member through the history of jazz using a small jazz ensemble, historic jazz film footage on two screens flanked on both sides of the ensemble, a poet to narrate, and dynamic lighting to enhance the performance experience. This series will be specifically for IUPUI students, staff, and faculty, and two performances are scheduled for Spring 2024.

10,000 Ships

The performance-based composition Dixon will work on during the Artist-in-Residence period. It will be performed in partnership with CASC. Details will be forthcoming.

To learn more about the programming and schedule, click here.


“As part of Mr. Dixon’s tenure with us, he will engage the campus and community in a series of multi-formatted creative presentations highlighting jazz as a Black Cultural Heritage product. With his esteemed and extensive performance and teaching experience, we are thrilled at the opportunity to have him in this important role for the Center.”

Dr. Leslie K. Etienne, Director of Africana Studies at IUPUI and Founding Executive Director of CASC

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to be further embedded in the IUPUI campus community. Jazz history and its impact within both Black history and Indianapolis as a whole is significant, and I look forward to delving into all of it in some really creative ways with the programming we have planned.”

Rob Dixon

Founded in 2020, CASC endeavors to create venues and opportunities for a more comprehensive engagement of the Black experience by operationalizing the academic work of the IUPUI Africana Studies Program, according to a release.