Boston and the surrounding area is rich in history, from the colonial era forward, and I appreciate all of it. But I am particularly interested in Boston in the 20th century, and have researched the middle years of that century extensively. My extreme interest in certain aspects of the city’s cultural history led me to form Troy Street Publishing as a vehicle for sharing ten years of research and writing.

The Boston Jazz Chronicles Cover
Click here to buy The Boston Jazz Chronicles on Amazon now.

My first endeavor was a seven-year labor of love, The Boston Jazz Chronicles, which I published through Troy Street in 2012. It was early in the self-publishing game and I thought the prospects and possibilities of that game were endless. I still do, and my goal is to publish the projects described elsewhere on this site.

This website, and its blog, The Troy Street Observer, are the primary outlets for telling my stories, but there are others—public speaking, walking tours, and a YouTube channel that puts some of the historic but out-of-print recordings back in circulation.

What’s in it for you? On this site you’ll find content about Boston people, places and events that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve opened a window, and through it you’ll hear some of the not-so-common stories of Boston. Check back often to see what’s new.

—Richard Vacca

The Troy Street Observer

Harvey, Roditi, and Mondays at Debbie’s

Photo of Mark Harvey 1979
Mark Harvey, 1979. Photo by John Barrett.

Something different on Troy Street this time—a jazz history guest post by Mark Harvey, Boston’s resident trumpeter, composer, teacher, leader of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, and all-around Jazz Hero. Mark mentioned to me that he had spoken with Claudio Roditi for the first time in some years, and that brought to mind the Harvey-Roditi Allstars, the band the two co-led in the mid 1970s.

Mark wrote the first version of this piece a a few years ago, and I asked if we could revive it here. He kindly agreed, so thank you to him, and here’s the story of the Harvey-Roditi Allstars in Mark’s own words.

Birth of the Allstars

In December 1973, the very first Aardvark concert was held—a Christmas benefit at Church of the Covenant, establishing the tradition we still maintain. This first Aardvark was a large brass ensemble plus rhythm, no saxes to be seen or heard. The repertoire was varied, from jazz to classical brass to gospel arrangements, with the Ronnie Ingraham Gospel Choir on hand. Another pattern was established—rampant eclecticism.

On New Year’s day, Justin Freed hosted a party, an open house to which many musicians came. Claudio Roditi and I had been friends for several years at this point, and Claudio had played in the Aardvark concert. At Justin’s, with a few of Claudio’s other playing buddies including Pete Chavez on hand, Claudio suggested taking the Aardvark group but adding saxes and making more of a big band set up.

I agreed, and so Claudio and I, right on the spot, began to plan for a big band. This did not replace Aardvark, but rather, ran in parallel with it for a couple of years.

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