Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band have been the gregarious guardians of New Orleans jazz for sixty years, nourishing timeless acoustic music with joyous improvisation for a battery of brass with bass, clarinet, voice, and piano.
The ensemble was founded at its historic namesake venue in the French Quarter by tuba player Allan Jaffe; now his son, Ben Jaffe, is the director and tubist. The current lineup also features Walter Harris, Ronel Johnson, Branden Lewis, Clint Maedgen, Charlie Gabriel, and Kyle Roussel. Though their service to music history was recognized with a National Medal of Arts, their place in music’s present is also profound. Alongside fertile collaborations with Arcade Fire and Del McCoury, they’ve also worked with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, and Dr. John.
In recent years, this definitive American band has shifted its focus to the Caribbean, seeking to fulfill Allan Jaffe’s dream of knowing New Orleans jazz down to its deepest roots. That search first led them to Cuba, resulting in the 2018 travelogue and album A Tuba to Cuba, which melds Dixieland, Mardi Gras music, and salsa with lived-in ease.
Since then, they’ve been focused on Haiti, so like New Orleans in its layers of French and West African cultures. In addition to collaborating with Haitian roots revivalists Lakou Mizik, Preservation Hall Jazz Band also joined forces with Regine Chassagne and Win Butler of Arcade Fire to create Krewe du Kanaval, a series of parades featuring Haitian legends such as RAM and Boukman Eksperyans. Founded in the French Quarter, it’s now spreading out to bring good news of the New Orleans-Haiti connection to the nation, including a separate concert at Big Ears.