Music Commentary: The Catechism of Jazz Critical Cliches

By Steve Provizer

The Arts Fuse recently published a self-examination by one of its critics. In that spirit, I publish this list, accumulated during a lifetime’s observation, as a caution for the next generation of jazz critics — and readers of same.


  • Into his or her efforts what must a jazz musician put: His or her all.
  • Can the state of originality be surpassed? Yes, but only by hyper-originality.
  • Can note choice, harmony, or sense of time be peccable? No, only impeccable.
  • What method of household chore epitomizes a listener’s reaction to a  jazz performance: Being swept up.
  • To what effect, as per Jelly Roll Morton, may jazz be susceptible to other musical genres: “Tinge-ing.”
  • Can the adjective “neo” be attached to any stylistic jazz descriptor: Yes, with “pseudo” as fallback.
  • What dangerous cardiac condition can be induced by certain ballad performances: Heartbreak.
  • Of what form of empty bombast can saxophonists sometimes be accused: Bluster.
  • In what invaluable  sartorial appurtenance can a drummer likely be found? In the pocket.


With apologies to Myles na gCopaleen

Steve Provizer writes on a range of subjects, most often the arts. He is a musician and blogs about jazz here.

Posted in , ,

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts