A Thrilling throwback, trumpeter Jason Prover brings vintage jazz to the tune-hungry masses
by Catherine Gigante-Brown
Originally from South Florida, it was economy that brought Jason Prover to Brooklyn.
“When I was accepted to grad school at NYU, I decided to settle here,” he recalled. “Not only did it seem like the right place to be—so many young people and so much going on—but it was significantly cheaper than Manhattan. I wanted to be in the center things. If you’re a musician, New York is the place to be.”
Prover quickly made his mark with the Sneak Thievery Orchestra (STO), with which he offers retro jazz with a new age flair. Whether he’s on trumpet, supplying smoky lyrics on the classic “Rosetta,” or taking to the skies with “I’ll Fly Away,” he’s a heady combo of sass, soul, and crisp notes.
Principally a trumpeter, Prover exhibits so much delight with all of jazz’s varieties, and mixes them so deftly that he’s pure joy to hear, and watch. Incorporating banjos, drums, horns, guitars, and the occasional teapot or other kitchen item, his STO has an undertone of fun, delivered with skill and approachability.
Sneak Thievery Orchestra consists of Evan Crane (bass), Mike Sailors (trumpet), Nick Myers (reeds), Alex Raderman (drums) and Sam Raderman (guitar/banjo). Prover confessed, “I wouldn’t be myself without them, and STO wouldn’t function without them. I’m so happy to have some of the area’s best musicians joining me to play our favorite traditional jazz songs, but we also do traditional Cuban numbers and later standards.”
Local venues have embraced Bed-Stuy resident Prover’s retro music, too. “I love doing gigs at Radegast in Williamsburg, for example,” he said. “STO has been there twice a month for about six years, and it’s served as our home base.” Another of Prover’s beloved stomping grounds is Washington Square Park.
“On a beautiful day, there’s nothing more fulfilling,” he said. “It’s our chance to perform for people who may never go to clubs or who’ve never been exposed to traditional jazz. Folks have posted lots of videos of STO performing outdoors on YouTube, which is great.”
Other commitments—like a residency at Joe’s Pub with the Hot Sardines—have also kept Prover off the streets as of late.
“My favorite type of music to play is definitely jazz from the 1920s and 1930s,” he explained. “I’m fortunate that style is
“I wouldn’t be myself without them, and STO wouldn’t function without them. I’m so happy to have some of the area’s best musicians joining me to play our favorite traditional jazz songs, but we also do traditional Cuban numbers and later standards.”
popular nowadays, but I’d be happy playing it alone in my bedroom. I also love practicing classical music and orchestral excerpts. I never get to do classical in public, but it’s one of the most rewarding types of music I practice.”
Prover’s talent was also recognized by the Louis Armstrong House, where he was invited to perform. The Cornona home of Armstrong and his wife Lucille Wilson from 1943 until his death in 1971, it’s now a museum.
“I was incredibly honored just to hold Armstrong’s horns, let alone play them,” he recalled. “Louis is someone I’ve been listening to all my life, and to be connected to him like that was surreal. I did ‘West End Blues’ and some of my other favorites. It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been performing. I didn’t realize that my hands were shaking until after I’d left.”
“I believe that music is a reflection of society,” the musician added. “In so many ways, society is ugly and unjust. Let’s face it, the world is a tough place. But music and jazz deal with that toughness. They deal with the tension and have the ability to break it down into something beautiful, pure, and true.
Catch Jason Regularly at Radegast Hall & Biergarten