Saturday, January 2, 2010

Preservation Hall in the New York Times

Check out this fine article on Preservation Hall in the New York Times:
New Orleans Jazz Band Gets in Step With the Times
Published December 31, 2009
Phil Lutz, NY Times

THE Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which in its 48 years has built a global reputation for presenting the traditional New Orleans sound, is taking a more contemporary approach these days — recruiting younger players, expanding its repertoire and allowing surrealist elements to creep into its performances.

But even as it modernizes its approach, the band, which comes to the Tarrytown Music Hall on Thursday, is keeping the old-time faith — hiring musicians whose strong links to the pioneers of jazz assure the music’s authenticity.

The combination makes for a multigenerational mix with appeal to a range of musical constituencies, not just aficionados of traditional jazz.

“Preservation Hall is not a museum piece,” said Benjamin Jaffe, 38, the band’s director and the son of its founder, Allan Jaffe. “We’re not recreating something that existed a hundred years ago.”

Most of the musicians that Allan Jaffe recruited in the 1960s and ’70s were part of the pioneering generation. But he died in 1987, and by the time his son took over the directorship, in 1993, younger players were filling the band’s ranks. The last founding member retired nearly a decade ago, and today’s players bring different kinds of experiences to the job.

Some of current crop — like Benjamin Jaffe, who plays tuba in the band and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music — have formal training that informs their thinking. Others — like the saxophonist and singer Clint Maedgen, 40, who honed his art in a variety show that has been likened to experimental theater — reveal a postmodern sensibility.

At the same time, players like the clarinetist and saxophonist Charlie Gabriel, 77, have experience in other idioms as well as traditional jazz. Mr. Gabriel, who at the improbable age of 11 started playing beside the early jazz greats along Bourbon Street, has also performed extensively with singers like Aretha Franklin and modern jazz artists like the pianist Barry Harris.

But what unites Preservation Hall’s members, present and past, is a powerful association with the cultural heritage of New Orleans, Mr. Jaffe said. Most of the musicians were born in the city and, wherever they may have traveled since, have strong roots there...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome photo.