“Weed, Jazz and the Cultural Shift” By Steve Provizer

Last year, I began a post this way: “No one seems happy about the fact that consciousness-altering substances have been at the center of American popular music for the past 100 years or so.” Since that time, I’ve seen cracks appear in the staunch American moral dam. Multiple states have moved toward legalization of medical marijuana and […]

Up from the Basement. Or, Lower Register-Philia by Steve Provizer

I was talking with friends about vocalist Johnny Hartman and his justifiably esteemed 1962-63 recording with John Coltrane. Dan said: “Very few things send chills up my spine like his entrance on My One and Only Love. Up out of the basement…”That got me thinking about other phrases that move dazzlingly up and down and out of […]

“Provizer Response to Pappademas Critique of Treme”

Alex Pappademas just pulished a scathing piece, The Frustrating Unlikeability of Treme. The title implies that the author wants the show to work, but his critical faculties just won’t let that happen. That’s hard to swallow, given the ferocity of his critique. This might seem a small nit to pick, but this apparent contradiction says to me that Pappademas has not come to terms […]

“Grace Kelly and Walt Kelly” By Steve Provizer

Maybe I should don the churl’s mantle for this. 19-year-old saxophonist Grace Kelly has been voted Best Boston Jazz musician for the 4th year in a row.  As I have often said, there are no Golden Ages and that includes a Golden Age of jazz audiences.  However-and I hope the talented and charming Ms. Kelly doesn’t take […]

Traditional Jazz and Storytelling

My last post(see just below) got a thread going on the Yahoo group of my band. Much of the conversation is about why young people-even those getting into jazz-don’t pick up on the New Orleans tradition. Brief HistoryThe style we now call Traditional New Orleans music was a vital force until about the mid-late 1920’s. Its influence was felt […]

“The Trad Jazz Paradox”

I play trumpet in The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band- a group that plays (mostly) a mix of newer and older styles of New Orleans Brass band music. Call me delusional, but audiences seem to really like the antideluvian stuff we play. It animates people; makes ’em want to move and smile (the Saints) or get serious, if necessary […]

Revue: Roddy Doyle’s Novel “Oh, Play That Thing”

Who actually says it on the recording is not a settled matter, but Jazz people know the expression from a recording of Dipper Mouth Blues: Strange but true-I came to Oh, Play That Thing through a top-ten-best list of jazz books. It’s a “picaresque” novel, a word once used to describe the work of J.P. Dunleavy or Henry Miller. Boiled down, it means there’s a lot […]

“Tears, Performance and Dindi” by S.G.Provizer

Recently, a comment was posted in response to my piece about Abbey Lincoln and her intense song Throw it Away. “I’d like to sing it,” the commenter wrote, “but I’m afraid I’d start sobbing onstage.”I immediately thought of the Antonio Carlos Jobim song “DIndi,“ as recorded on Wayne Shorter’s 1969 LP “Super Nova.” it is the only performance I know-live or recorded- which actually includes […]