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Houston Press: Noel Paul Stookey and All That Fazz

Houston Press: Noel Paul Stookey and All That Fazz

Houston Press

Noel Stookey remembers exactly when he first heard the term “Fazz.” It was in the mid-1960s and the folk music trio he was part of (a little act named Peter, Paul and Mary) were on tour with the jazzbos of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

At the end of each show, the groups would play together, and saxophonist Paul Desmond would somewhat dismissively tell they audience they were about to hear some “fazz” music (sometimes it was “jolk”), denoting a blending of the genres.

Well, the word “fazz” stuck in Stookey’s head for more than 55 years, and now serves as the title of a new compilation record, Fazz: Now & Then (Newworld Multimedia).

“The marriage of folk and jazz is adding a musical layer to the depth and story value of folk music. And you can add an emotional impact,” the spry 84-year-old says via Zoom from his soundproofed home garage. “I went to a lot of jazz concerts and festivals and had a lot of records. So, incorporating that into [folk] was not difficult.”

The 20 tracks on Fazz: Now & Then span decades and embrace not just folk and jazz, but classical, rock, pop, gospel and world music. It consists of both new and archival studio recordings, as well as live tracks of Stookey’s taken from Peter, Paul and Mary tours. Some are originals, and others covers or traditional tunes. So, was it a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put it all together?

“Jigsaw puzzle! I’ll have to remember that! That’s the Stookey term for ‘eclectic!’” he says. “I think that most musicians would recognize that as songs come to them, they accept them or discard them based on the kind of statement they want to make on a record.”

BOB RUGGIERO has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.