Off the Beaten Tracks August 2023

It’s time I went off the beaten tracks again. I’ve made a point in this column of covering bands from Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America that TST readers have very little chance of catching live but are making great hot jazz. Traditional jazz remains a world wide phenomenon and bands playing the streets of Istanbul have as much to say as those in NYC. Their albums can be rewarding and deserve your support. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the new albums that would be most enjoyed by our readers are recorded in Europe by bands they have not heard of.

I’ve also tried to stretch the boundaries of our genre comfort zone. One of my first columns reviewed Matt Tolentino’s Polka album! I’m more likely to cover trad jazz players on Caribbean escapades than American Songbook vocal albums. Why? Because I think they reflect a devotion to the fun side of early American music that our readers appreciate. While you aren’t going to read reviews of strictly proto-country string bands in this column, a washboard or jug band fits right in, and on the same reasoning as the Hawaiian music below, those bands were loaded with jazz players. Music of nearly any American form of the ragtime era is also on the table as context to what came later and encouragement to the 78 RPM collectors who know and love it.

So this month I’m digging deep in my Bandcamp wishlist to find you some albums you might not know of otherwise.

Joe Bebco is the Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times and Webmaster of

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