Best “You Can Play Jazz on That?” Moment
Watching Victor Provost
Quick, jazzheads: List all the steel-drum soloists you know. Unless this was the subject of your Ph.D. dissertation, the list almost certainly begins and ends with Victor Provost. The native of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) began playing in the musical traditions of his home, but the lure of jazz was strong enough that Provost began working out the steelpan on “Moment’s Notice,” “Dolphin Dance,” and his own original tunes (many of them found on his wonderful recent recording, Her Favorite Shade of Yellow). That he navigates the music’s complexities on such an exotic instrument, and contributes gorgeous solos in unique and blindingly virtuosic rhythms, is astounding enough. But consider this: Provost had almost no precedents to draw from in putting jazz onto the steel drum, only his training in a completely different world, and his own imagination. That’s what genius is made of.