ALBUM OF THE WEEK:
"The eight musicians who make up the current lineup of the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band have a tough road to plow. Perform with the spirit and integrity of their ancestors or fit the role of re-creationists to keep their battered French Quarter home filled with tourists. It's a balance they strike on Preservation, an album that partners the PHJB with 19 prominent rock, country and folk vocalists in a program of songs from the first half of the 20th century.
Not surprisingly, the more the vocalist works a tone that resonates with historical wear and tear, the better the recording. Richie Havens, Dr. John and Tom Waits are tops in this set, getting the band to sound their gritty best by plunging deep into ancient Louisiana blues. Waits digs his heels into the swamp on the earliest known Mardi Gras tune, the percussion-driven "Tootie Ma is Big Fine Thing"; Havens takes a funereal tone on "Trouble in Mind," a tune recorded by thousands but first by Louis Armstrong with Bertha "Chippie" Hill; and Dr. John brings out the gris-gris and incantations for Jelly Roll Morton's "Winin' Boy."
Better than the average benefit/tribute album, performances over most of the disc are the result of serious consideration and effort, a worthy addition to the Preservation Hall's recorded legacy. Proceeds from the album benefit educational efforts to mentor musicians under
the age of 18..."