by Nate Dow
for the Boston Herald
There’s more than an all-star cast of singers fronting the legendary New Orleans band here, among them Dr. John, Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Brandi Carlisle, Merle Haggard, Angelique Kidjo and Pete Seeger. Bandleader Ben Jaffe, the son of the Preservation Hall founders, even resurrected New Orleans’ most famous son, Louis Armstrong, culling his voice from a 1960s recording of “Rockin’ Chair” for this remarkable CD, which benefits the Hall and its outreach program. Recording the artists with the band in its historic home in the French Quarter, each of the 19 songs (or 26 if you spend a few more bucks for a deluxe version) has a classic New Orleans tone even though the singers come from an array of genres. You’d never guess, for instance, that bluegrass king Del McCoury would sound so natural covering a Preservation Hall classic such as “After You’ve Gone.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band:
Chiseling the Blues
by Mark Silver
for NPR Music
In the bitter old blues song "Some Cold Rainy Day," the dumpee declares to the dumper: You will come back someday — when it's cold and rainy and you're old and sick and your stomach "hangs like an empty sack." Bertha "Chippie" Hill made the tune a hit in the 1920s, but now it's been reinvented as a 2010 stunner by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with vocals by folk-rock singer Cory Chisel.
Chisel's rendition is featured on a new recording with a very long name that explains its purpose, Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. Many singers, young and old, perform with the famed New Orleans musicians. It's a gimmick, but the gimmick works.
The instrumentation here is traditional New Orleans jazz, cooked to perfection. In "Some Cold Rainy Day," a bluesy piano creates a gripping slow-drag framework. A tambourine rustles like a vengeful rattlesnake while a deep-throated tuba toots the pain of a busted heart. Now and then, a muted trumpet playfully improvises, as if it were the mocking voice of that runaway lover: "Betcha miss me!"
Set against this classic Crescent City accompaniment, Chisel's sweet, beat-up voice sounds achingly contemporary and more soulful than ever. Living up to his last name, he etches a portrait of a man who's fed up with the woman who walked out on him — while still holding out hope that she'll come crawling back someday.