Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NOPV1 Reviewed by

If Disneyland supposedly tops the list, then Preservation Hall in New Orleans’ French Quarter has to be the second-happiest place on Earth. Walking into the old barebones room is like entering a time warp, traveling back to a period where there were no frills and the thrills all emanated right off the bandstand. The walls in the Hall are dark with age, and the humid air hangs in the Crescent City like a dare to those who go there. There are no fancy lights; rather the eyes are left to conjure some of their own details in the musicians’ faces. Make no mistake: those that play here are from a special class. They honor the traditions of a time many now see as antiquated, but actually exist in the rarefied place where forward movement is not counted in years. Inside Preservation Hall the clock stands still, except for the rushing blood of those lucky enough to sit on the benches and listen to music being played that helps define where we came from and where we are going. It is world music by the simple fact that people from around the planet flock there to try and touch a greatness not easily found today. These new recordings honor that tradition and then some. Young and old players make up the present Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they must, since the other side has claimed so many previous members. But this music doesn’t answer to a normal calendar. Rather, it’s all in the heart of those who play it, and while many of these songs have been around longer than cars, in these capable hands they hold the promise of tomorrow. “Short Dress Gal,” “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” and “What a Friend” and others set off visions of lives well spent and future joys waiting right outside the little room on St. Peter Street.

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