Monday, March 29, 2010

"PRESERVATION" Reviewed by and Creative Loafing!

reviewed by Brian Ferdman

The “with special guests” album is typically a loaded proposition. While the guest often adds new elements to the band’s sound (and hopefully increases exposure and sales), the guest also can also disrupt the fragile chemistry of the band, significantly diluting their sound. Thankfully Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s new guest-laden effort does not fall victim to these traps and wonderfully weaves each guest’s sound into that of the ensemble. Band leader Ben Jaffe initially laid out a dream list of potential guests who understand the traditional sound of Preservation Hall, and much to his surprise, everyone on this dream lineup agreed to take part in recording the twenty standards that comprise the excellent Preservation: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Andrew Bird sets the tone for the album with a rollicking turn on the bouncy “Shake It and Break It.” After opening with such a lively pace, the group downshifts a bit but maintains their unmistakable swing feel as Paolo Nutini deftly warbles through “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” Up next is madman Tom Waits, who leads the band through one of their most thrilling numbers, a twisted, butt-shaking turn on the ancient Mardi Gras anthem, “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing.” With plenty of percussion powering an oddball secondline beat that compels strange movements reminiscent of a hip replacement, Waits applies his unique, guttural growl and guides the ensemble through dynamic shifts while maintaining an incredibly loose atmosphere that has a warts-and-all/devil-may-care vibe. The entire piece crackles with a very live energy, and a similar feeling is successfully applied later on in the album with Dr. John directing everyone through “Winin’ Boy.” The song shuffles, slinks, and grinds before he shouts, “Oh, suffer now, honey!” and everyone erupts into a raunchy burst of sound...

CD Review: Preservation Hall Jazz Band
by Grant Britt for Creative Loafing

The Deal: Mind-bending, fonky take on Dixieland by a galaxy of unlikely presenters including Merle Haggard, Tom Waits, Angelique Kidjo, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle and Dr. John.

The Good: A benefit album to raise money for New Orleans' revered-but-financially-shabby Dixieland homestead, Preservation Hall, Preservation pairs a gathering of unlikely Dixielanders with the strutting rhythms that are the heartbeat of New Orleans. Brandi Carlile roughs up "The Old Rugged Cross" in a manner Levon Helm would approve of: throaty and throbbing, but still churchy. Tom Waits' "Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing," the earliest recorded Mardi Gras song, is a rump shaker that sounds like it was written for and by a tribe of Mardi Gras Indians, with Waits growling over a bubbling cauldron of horns. But it's hard to beat the hometown boys at their own game. Dr. John owns the fonk with his take on "Winin Boy." And even though Angelique Kidjo puts Edith Piaf to shame on "La Vie En Rose," it's N'awleans' own Terence Blanchard's trumpet lead that puts this one high in the Hall's rafters. The guests are impressive – even Steve Earle and Merle Haggard duke it out with Dixieland, but it's the music behind them that carries this show.

The Bad: Needs a warning label: Not your average old coots playing Dixieland. This music is vibrant, powerful stuff that deserves to be heard by a big audience of all generations.

The Verdict: A genre-bending triumph celebrating the diversity of roots music.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Preservation Hall presents MIDNIGHT PRESERVES 2010!


April 23 - May 1, 2010, New Orleans: Preservation Hall is proud to announce the return of Midnight Preserves, the popular late-night Jazz Fest music series hosted by the world-renowned home of Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Now in its sixth year, Midnight Preserves offers music fans the opportunity to experience performances from emerging and legendary New Orleans artists in an intimate, small-venue setting. Tickets are now on sale via Performers include Luke Winslow-King, The Loose Marbles, Treme Brass Band, John Boutte, Paul Sanchez, and a very special performance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band featuring the members of stadium-filling American rock band My Morning Jacket. Ticket sales will be limited for these intimate performances, so order in advance!

Friday, April 23, 11:30pm:

Luke Winslow-King (12:45am) plus Loose Marbles (11:45pm) /
$15 advance - $20 at door

Originally hailing from Cadillac Michigan, Luke Winslow-King is an emerging New Orleans singer, songsmith, and composer inspired by traditional jazz, rock, ragtime, impressionism, delta and country blues, folk, and classical music whose most recent album, “Old/New Baby” was recorded in the Hall!

Loose Marbles is a young, emerging, traditional New Orleans Jazz Band led by clarinetist Michael Magro. Described by the New Yorker as “ a sort of Amalgamated Jazz Corporation that creates subsidiaries around the city, to maximize tips and minimize boredom. The fifteen musicians play clarinet, trumpet, banjo, washboard, accordion, trombone, guitars, sousaphone, standup bass, and guitars, but you’re likely to see only seven or eight performers at any given gig. And since you rarely see the same configuration of instruments twice in a row, you rarely hear the same kind of jazz.”

Saturday, April 24, 11:30pm:

Preservation Hall Jazz Band with special guests My Morning Jacket /
$100 (very limited ticket sales)

Inspired by MMJ front-man Jim James’ collaboration with PHJB on their recently released PRESERVATION benefit album, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and My Morning Jacket will be touring together from April 20 through May 2. Please join these two amazing bands for a collaborative acoustic performance in the room where it all started. Portion of the proceeds will benefit The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program.

Friday, April 30, 11:30pm

Treme Brass Band featuring Benny Jones & Uncle Lionel Batiste

$15 advance - $20 at door

The Treme Brass Band is a marching brass band from New Orleans, Louisiana led by snare drummer Benny Jones, Sr. and featuring the face of the official 2010 Jazz Fest Congo Square poster, Lionel Batiste on bass drum. The band takes its name from New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood on the outskirts of the French Quarter, birthplace and home of many generations of New Orleans’ finest jazz musicians, and will soon be featured in the upcoming HBO series of the same name.

Saturday, May 1, 11:30pm

John Boutte and Paul Sanchez / $15 advance - $20 at door

Born in New Orleans on the same day in the same year, Boutte and Sanchez both have a deep love of the city, its people and traditions. Be it John Boutte’s vocal explorations of New Orleans jazz, soul, blues and gospel, or Paul Sanchez’s singer-songwriter explorations through such projects as his former band Cowboy Mouth, both artists’ songwriting has been deeply informed by the culture and traditions of their home town.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tonight! A Preservation Hall Jazz Band Tribute to Sweet Emma Barrett

Please join Rickie Monie and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band tonight as we play tribute to one of our greats on the eve of her 113th birthday! Special features of the evening will include a photo gallery focusing on Ms. Barrett’s time with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a video reel featuring recently unearthed footage of the iconic pianist, and specially selected musical sets from Preservation Hall Jazz Band pianist Rickie Monie.

"Sweet Emma” Barrett (March 25, 1897 – January 28, 1983) was a self-taught jazz pianist and singer who worked with the Original Tuxedo Orchestra between 1923 and 1936, first under Papa Celestin, then William Ridgely. Also active with Armand Piron, John Robichaux, and Sidney Desvigne, Sweet Emma Barrett was at her most powerful in the early 1960s and became an iconic figure with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. She was nicknamed “Bell Gal” because she wore a red skullcap and garters with Christmas bells that jingled in time with her music. She was featured on the cover of Glamour magazine and written up in publications on both sides of the Atlantic. When the Preservation Hall Jazz Band began to "hit the road,” she took it on international tours. Barrett toured in the United States as well, including a stint at Disneyland in 1963.

Raised in the Ninth Ward, Rickie Monie (pronounced moe-NAY) was the son of amateur musicians and full-time lovers of jazz. As a child, Rickie frequently rode the bus with his family into The French Quarter where they heard music pouring out of every door. Learning piano via weekend church services and majoring in woodwind instruments at Dillard University, it was through his involvement with the Olympia Brass Band that he was first introduced to Preservation Hall. In 1982 Monie got his first call from Preservation Hall, to substitute for Sweet Emma after the legendary resident pianist suffered a stroke, putting him on the road to full-time engagement with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for nearly thirty years.

As always, admission price is $10 and all ages are welcome. Doors open at 8:00pm.

Monday, March 15, 2010

04.06.10 / 11:30pm - BONNIE "PRINCE" BILLY at Preservation Hall!

Join us on Tuesday, April 6 for a very special late-night performance from subterranean troubadour and “Appalachian post-punk solipsistWill Oldham in his latest crossover project featuring backing from The Cairo Gang, “a musical declaration uniting the romanticists with the doomsayers for a round of high-fives and handshakes.” Local gypsy-folk artists Hurray for the Riff Raff open.

Tickets $15 via Ticketweb. Please note, ticketing for this show will be limited, so buy yours early! As always, Preservation Hall is a non-smoking venue, but outside drinks are permitted. (No bottles please!)

The New Yorker on Will Oldham:
"Oldham has been releasing records for fifteen years, though almost never under his own name. His first recordings were credited to Palace Brothers, a name inspired by John Steinbeck’s 'Cannery Row' in which the characters’ makeshift home is known as the Palace Flophouse—and by close-harmony duos such as the Louvin Brothers, who helped expand the scope of early country music, and the Everly Brothers, whose hits from half a century ago underscored the link between country music and early rock and roll. Oldham was a student of music history, clearly, but he never sounded studious. He had an eerie, strangulated voice, half wild and half broken. And he sang vivid and peculiar songs, which sometimes sounded like old standards rewritten as fever dreams or, occasionally, as inscrutable dirty jokes.

These days, he calls himself Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and his music is a little bit easier to love and a lot harder to dismiss. He has settled into character as an uncanny troubadour, singing a sort of transfigured country music, and he has become, in his own subterranean way, a canonical figure. Johnny Cash covered him, Bj√∂rk has championed him (she invited him to appear on the soundtrack of 'Drawing Restraint 9'), and Madonna, he suspects, has quoted him (her song 'Let It Will Be' seems to borrow from his 'O Let It Be,' though he says, 'I’m fully prepared to accept that it’s a coincidence'). One tribute came from the indie folksinger Jeffrey Lewis, whose song 'Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror' affectionately portrays Oldham as both a hero and a brute; the joke is that most indie-rock listeners already think of him that way. And a recent, unenthusiastic review in the London Independent nonetheless concluded that Oldham was 'the underground artist most likely to work his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.' Although he has never signed with a major label, and has never risen higher than No. 194 on Billboard’s album chart, his concerts sell out all over the world. If he remains a spectral figure, that is no coincidence. In an online tour diary from a few years ago, he wrote, 'It is more rewarding to be complicit with scarcity than excess...”


Hurray For The Riff Raff are honored to have been chosen by Bonnie “Prince” Billy to open this unique show. Hurray for the Riff Raff have just released their second full-length album, Young Blood Blues, which is available on CD and vinyl in local New Orleans record stores and for digital download on all major online retailers. They will be embarking on an extensive tour of the West Coast in May.

Monday, March 8, 2010

PHJB Tours Louisiana! This week! Louisiana Crossroads Tour

Hey Louisiana!

If you're not aware yet, PHJB will be on a short mini-tour around Louisiana this week on the Louisiana Crossroads series.

Thursday, March 11 Silman Theater New Iberia, LA
Friday, March 12 Vermillionville Performance Center Lafayette, LA
Saturday, March 13 F.G. Bulber Auditorium Lake Charles, LA
Sunday, March 14 The Manship Theatre Baton Rouge, LA

For info on how to buy tickets,click HERE!

About Louisiana Crossroads:

Concert, discussion and broadcast series; a record label; and an economic development initiative launched by the Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority in 2001.

Our innovative, ground-breaking partnership is designed to stimulate the growth of greater infrastructure in our region's burgeoning cultural entertainment industry.

Over the course of nearly 150 live events and dozens of live radio and Internet broadcasts, the Louisiana Crossroads concert series has provided a top-notch showcase for regional and visiting artists in an intimate and accessible format.

Through our Louisiana Crossroads Live, Louisiana Folk Masters and Festivals Acadiens Live series, Louisiana Crossroads Records has created a number of acclaimed and unique CD releases.

"All of our efforts are focused on growing and supporting our amazing cultural economy," notes Louisiana Crossroads Director Todd Mouton. "Since we began, we've worked to show our state's artists and traditions in a new light, with first-rate production values and high-quality contextual marketing materials."

At our shows, we work to bring artists and audiences closer together through conversation during and after Louisiana Crossroads performances. In 2005 we were recognized with the first-ever Cultural Economy Development Award at the Louisiana Governor's Arts Awards. "Our many diverse partnerships intertwine artistic and economic development on the airwaves and in venues across the state," adds Mouton.

Louisiana Crossroads Administrative Director Vicki Chrisman notes that our annual mini-tours and miniresidencies have been a great success. "We strive to make Louisiana Crossroads a special experience for our artists and audiences, and their feedback tells us our formula's working."

visit their website,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"PRESERVATION" in Offbeat Magazine!

March 01, 2010 - by Alex Rawls

For its new album, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band made some high-profile friends, but who learned from who?

Since Preservation Hall opened in 1961, it has been the great name in traditional
jazz. The venue continues to let the music speak without amplification, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been iconic, representing the city and music despite the inevitable lineup changes over the years. It’s the band that everybody knows in concept, but not in detail.

“I’d been to Preservation Hall to see their performances there,” Jason Isbell says. Isbell is just one of the guests on Preservation, the new album by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and his experience with the Hall and the band is more typical than not. He’d come to New Orleans and stopped in the hall as part of a trip. His awareness of it increased as he toured New Orleans with the Drive-By Truckers and his own 400 Unit. But, he admits, “I never knew much about the Preservation Hall. Once I got caught up on the history, I got more interested in it.”

Isbell, like guests including Paulo Nutini, Andrew Bird, Ani DiFranco, Tom Waits, Dr. John, Pete Seeger, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle and Amy LaVere came to Preservation Hall and cut a track live with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. It wasn’t Isbell’s first time cutting a track live, but it wasn’t common for him either. “You’ve got to have good musicians or it can take a really long time,” he says.

For Del McCoury, this was a significant change. “He goes back and plugs in all of his vocal tracks,” Hall director and tuba player Ben Jaffe says. “So for him to come into a room with seven musicians you’ve never met before and sing live over a jazz band, it’s intimidating. I was blown away with how he came in there and just did it.”

Since Jaffe took over as artistic director for Preservation Hall in 1993, the hall and the band have been modernized. Preservation continues in that vein, matching the band with guest artists and broadening the repertoire to introduce more people to the band. Not surprisingly, not everybody shares Jaffe’s vision equally. Preservation includes folk, blues and Western Swing, and their distance from Preservation Hall’s bread and butter concerned 78-year-old clarinetist Charlie Gabriel a little.

“We’re not doing the music the way the old musicians did it,” he says. “I think we might stray a little bit too far away from the source. But this is a good project; it’s geared to the education of the kids. It’s incorporating other folks’ music into traditional jazz music, which is a good intake. You’re incorporating bluegrass into jazz music, which is a good thing.”

Musically, the interaction between the guests and the hall band seems surprisingly easy on the album. In person, it added a dimension to the project. “I don’t think they had any idea (who I was),” Isbell says. “I thought Walter (Payton) was asleep until we counted off and started playing. He’d come to life at the last second.”

“Richie Havens was a very soulful individual,” Gabriel says. “He just sit right down, and started doing what he would do. Pete Seeger is a wonderful man. You feel good just being in his company. He was a soft-spoken man.”

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James embraced the project. “He came into the hall the night before,” Jaffe says. “I took him through the hall and it was his first time there. We went upstairs above the hall and we were walking through one of the old rooms upstairs and he saw an old amp in the corner with a microphone and he asked me about it. I told him that was Sweet Emma (Barrett)’s amplifier. She used to drag that around New Orleans and that’s what she sang out of.” The next day, James showed up in a suit and sang through her megaphone and amp.

“It was very surreal,” James says via email, “because I had a dream the night before we did the session where a spirit was breathed into my mouth through a hole in the floor. I carried the spirit for awhile, then when I put my lips to the bullhorn, I felt I was breathing that spirit back out into this world from the dream
world and into Preservation Hall. I felt Sweet Emma’s ghost howling through my heart.”

Preservation has already produced a number of small victories. The band got to work with member Clint Maedgen’s musical hero, Tom Waits, and My Morning Jacket is taking the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on tour with it this spring. “I think it will give the audience a deeper insight into where a lot of the music we enjoy comes from.”

Jason Isbell learned to play his song correctly—”there was one chord I was playing as a major 7th and it’s a minor 7th”—but he also learned something from the band. “It’s such a part of their life to create music that it wasn’t anything extraordinary for them, and I like that a lot. I think music should be like that sometimes without bells and whistles.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

"PRESERVATION" reviewed in All About Jazz!

Preservation Hall Jazz Band:
by Wade Liguet

What do you get when you cross America's best traditional jazz band with 20 emerging or legendary musical artists? You get a terrific collection of highly listenable traditional jazz performances by a highly improbable combination of musicians and vocalists. Who would have thought to have Del McCoury sing "After You've Gone" with his heavy country twang? Or Tom Waits' raspy voice on "Tootie Ma Was a Big Fine Thing"? If you are Ben Jaffe—tuba player, creative director and son of Preservation Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, and grew up in the hall—this might seem, as Jaffe states in the liner notes, a natural fit. For the rest of us, it is a surprise, and a real treat.

Jaffe made a wish-list of performers whom he hoped would come to New Orleans to play with the band. Surprisingly, they all agreed to do so. He showed them around the city and then brought them to the warm confines of Preservation Hall to record with the band. The result is an album that will have widespread appeal, as performers known by the young—Andrew Bird, Yim Yames, Jason Isbell, Ani DeFranco, Cory Chisel, Paolo Nutini, Angelique Kidjo, Brandi Carlisle and Amy LaVere—share the CD with performers known by folk and rock music fans—Waits, Pete Seeger, Dr. John, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Richie Havens. Country music fans are catered for too, by Merle Haggard, McCoury, Steve Earle and Buddy Miller. Louis Armstrong even makes an appearance with extracted voicings on "Rocking Chair." All the performers are accompanied by the incomparable Preservation Hall Jazz Band—a group of musicians who are, no doubt about it, the best New Orleans has to offer in the traditional music genre.

The album elicits feelings of both joy and bemusement. Joy because that is what traditional jazz creates when played by some of its greatest musicians, and bemusement because of the pairing of some great singers and musicians with the band. Andrew Bird brings his skillful violin playing, as well as a voice with great range, to "Shake It And Break It." Tom Waits' craggy voicings on the Mardi Gras-tinged "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing" is just plain fun. Merle Haggard's version of "Basin Street Blues" skillfully joins a country voice and jazz in a surprisingly pleasant rendition of this old standard. Richie Havens sings a hauntingly beautiful blues ballad on "Trouble in Mind" with banjo and the horn section playing beautifully in the background. Preservation Hall vocalist Clint Maedgen performs with the Blind Boys of Alabama on the fired-up gospel tune "There Is a Light" behind the powerful organ playing of the hall's pianist Rickie Monie. Each of the tunes on this album deserves a comment, but more than that, each deserves a listen.

Preservation is released as a benefit album to support Preservation Hall and its Music Outreach Program. The album will also benefit traditional jazz in general. As younger generations shun jazz for hip hop, country and independent music, how will jazz lure listeners? How will a century old (and counting) music form stay fresh? Ben Jaffe and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have created something brilliant with this album. They have kept the jazz traditional, and have brought in popular artists to collaborate with them. This album will no doubt have cross-over appeal. It is something that both young and old listeners should enjoy, be they country, rock or jazz fans. In that sense, the disc, as the title implies, is a preservation of all that is good about traditional jazz, while at the same time being an ambassador to a new generation of fans.